Blog Post #3

Blog Post #3

Over the course of the school year, we have gone over many topics such as mindfulness, social emotional learning, depression, translational science, and positive psychology. The major lessons I have learned from the content this semester are to always center yourself in any situation that you are having and practicing mindfulness at least once a day can help you focus a little bit better through out the day. These are lessons that if practiced make a difference in one’s day. Some smaller topics we focused on were PERMA and VIA strengths. These topics were part of positive psychology and I was able to connect to them because they each posed qualities that I could use to better myself.

One thing i can take away from this class is the use of positive psychology. I have always had a weak view of myself mentally and physically. I have struggle with finding self-confidence and self-worth for a long time. I took me getting to know myself and applying good thought to my day-to-day for me to gain that confidence. While I was getting better at owning my own being I still had feelings of no self-worth. When we did the assignment of tracking automatic thoughts it really opened up my mind of what I am really thinking. I am someone who will push things away but when I did this assignment it made me acknowledge what I didn’t want to. Since then, when ever I feel down about myself, I sit back and reflect on what it is that is bothering me. I even type it out in my notes and it helps center myself and from there I mentally map out ways I can turn it around. This has helped me so much and I feel that just doing this is helping me grow in a sense.

3. How do you plan to share the information that you’ve learned and the insights you’ve gained with your social network (both personal network and social media network) after class is over?

I plan on sharing this information mainly through word of mouth. I believe that the best way to reach people is through making the personal connection with them face-to-face. It makes the information more relatable when you make the experience of it one that is memorable. If I were to share it on social media, I would use snapchat and just take short videos taking about my day and how I applied any of the topics I learned in class to my day or whatever situation I was experiencing.



I commented on Miriam and Mendezig.



Blog Post #3

Throughout this course the most major lesson I really learned was how important self care really is. Prioritizing myself had been my biggest challenge in life. Some of the smaller topics that really resonated with me were the mindfulness practices, the disconnecting challenges, and the VIA strengths survey. All of these topics were special to me for different reasons but also all tied back to my main point of self care and prioritization. Mindfulness practices was probably the biggest topic that stuck with me through this entire semester. I’ve always felt that practicing mindfulness with some sort of meditation was a great way to relieve stress and anxiety in my life. The disconnecting from screens and technology ties well with mindfulness because that week I recognized how much I have let my phone and social media impact my daily life and how I interact with the present world around me. Finally, the strengths survey was such a good way for me to get to know myself in a visual way. I learned things about myself more that I didn’t realize. I also noticed how much my strengths and weaknesses are impacted depending on what’s going on in my life at the time or what I have experienced and gone through.

Commitment is the hardest part to this all. I think the best way to commit to something is holding yourself accountable and really setting  realistic goals in my everyday life. I have already started to try and incorporate a few minutes of meditation at night before bed every day and have already noticed positive results in my sleep and mood when I wake up in the morning. I began implementing this as soon as possible because I have always been someone who struggles with anxiety and it has always been a big issue and has impacted my sleep and I wanted to really try meditation out. I definitely still need to work on disconnecting, I want to really work on being able to really not value social media and screens so much and just focus on the present life around me because I feel that a lot of my anxiety comes from social media and cyber issues and it has restricted me from really focusing on what’s going on around me rather than using it as something to avoid and distract myself.

My biggest plan for when it comes to spreading awareness for the importance of these topics is to really be transparent with the effects of it and what differences its made in my life. I also want to continue to challenge the people around me and in my life to try some of the things that i’m integrating in my everyday life in hopes that they begin to recognize the importance of it as well.


Final blog post

When I enrolled into this class, I did not know what to expect. I’ve learned so much these past couple of months, and some of the important lessons I was taught are the following:

  • Practicing mindfulness is effective only if you know what works for you.
  • Our phone/social media usage greatly impacts our wellbeing and our ability to focus, so it should be used in moderation and precautions should be taken.
  • Even just one person you have a positive relationship with can improve your life/wellbeing.
  • Identifying the coping methods that can help us cope with negative emotions we may experience is important.
  • Our strengths & virtues contribute to fulfillment and the good in life.
  • Addiction is like any other disease: preventable, treatable, causes biological changes, and if untreated, can last a lifetime.
  • Sleep is very important!

The most meaningful topics for me were mindfulness, positive relationships, strengths, emotional resilience in the digital age, and physical wellbeing. Practicing mindfulness helps me bring back my attention to the now. It allows me to pay attention to things most people forget about/ignore, such as the appearance of the sky, my breathing, the sounds I hear while walking, etc. Mindfulness also helps me concentrate on what’s right in front of me rather than worry about EVERYTHING that usually runs through my mind. When we discussed positive relationships, I instantly knew who was a part of my support group and it made me realize that I had more than just one. I tend to re-evaluate my relationships with others a lot, and I feel like as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten better at identifying the type of and strength of the connections I have with those around me.

I felt like I learned more about myself when we touched on the strengths topic. When we took the VIA Strengths survey, it allowed me to identify my strengths and weaknesses and determine how to utilize and/or improve them. My top strength was very accurate, so it also helped me believe more in the results I was given. I don’t know when exactly I started feeling this way, but for a while now I’ve felt sick and tired of my phone + social media. I noticed that seeing multiple notifications on my phone on a daily basis makes me anxious, so I’ve tried to use my phone less and turn off certain notifications in order to combat this. I think it’s important for myself and others to know how to cope with the negative things that come with social media but still know how to enjoy it as well. Maintaining my physical wellbeing is very important to me because no one can function as well as they normally would if they’re neglecting their basic needs. I also do it in order for my future self to be healthy and continue to enjoy life.

I still need to work on my physical wellbeing, especially since I’ve begun to neglect it due to finals. Last week I went to the gym for the first time in a long time, so I’m going to try to continue that even now. If I can’t go to the gym, I’ll follow exercise routines on YouTube that I’ve used in the past and do them in my room. When I become anxious or can’t focus, I’ll remember the mindfulness activities that we’ve talked about and/or did in class in order to bring myself back to the present. I need to look at the document Dr. Walsh posted on Blackboard on how to use our strengths in order to improve the ones that were my “weaknesses”. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing when I start to feel overwhelmed by my phone/social media, and continue re-evaluating my relationships with others as well as further developing the ones I want to maintain in the future.

I’ve already shared a bunch of the stuff we’ve done and learned in class on social media (not just on Instagram), and would tell people what I learned if I feel like they could benefit from it. I’ve also recommended the class to some of my friends and acquaintances at VCU, so I hope that they take it and share what they’ve learn and recommend it to others as well. I really wish this was a class that is required and/or I had taken it sooner because I did enjoy it. Thank you to Dr. Walsh, Rebecca, and everyone else who was a part of our class!


Final Blog Post :(

I planned my schedule as everyone did last spring, including this class, which I knew I’ve always needed in my life because of my history of depression and anxiety. I was unaware, however, of the events to come after spring semester last year. Last summer was going swimmingly–pun intended–in comparison to years past. My mental health was doing much better than it ever had been, and the small things that used to get to me didn’t anymore I felt I was really making progress for the first time. I spent my days lounging by the lake and babysitting my brother, my nights waitressing at a local restaurant with all my friends, singing with my grandpa, and visiting a close friend–for lack of a better, more genuine term–Chad in Danville, Virginia.

My grandfather was diagnosed with cancer in early May, but we were optimistic of his recovery at his younger age of 69. In mid-June, preparing for a weekend trip to visit Chad, I received a call from my best friend Gian in hysterics. Chad had been hit by a truck while he was longboarding and was pronounced dead on arrival. I was completely devastated. Dreams of eventually having a stable relationship with him were completely shattered and my fragile balance was destroyed. A week after the funeral, I was in the room as my grandpa flatlined. This was unimaginably difficult for me to recover from if I can even say I have. My emotions are still continuously triggered by various things: skateboarders, talk of court cases (as he was a lawyer), red wine, hundreds of songs, and the list goes on.

Coming into The Science of Happiness, I expected to learn the technical formula for how to be happy; what resulted was not only this but much more. The most important lesson was that 40% of intentional activity–not to look at it as 40/100, but as a place you can reside in and control. The genetics aspect of my mental illness often got in the way of my perception of myself, but I  now realize there is so much I can do to help myself (and others) that I was unaware of. The VIA Strengths survey helped me understand that there a lot of positive qualities I have despite my constant struggles. Positive Psychology and the Perma Model brought a positive mindset to my attention, but honestly, the entire class was a positive experience for me. I missed a few more classes then I would have liked to because my anxiety often keeps me up at night, but everything I was able to absorb was valuable.

I have never been in a class that I have taken more from in relation to my personal life. I intend to use everything I learned. I honestly wish I could have access to the slides indefinitely, but my notes will have to suffice. I have already started to work on cultivating my strengths, something that has always interested me in the form of personality tests. I think the survey is a positive way to look at yourself; instead of focusing on your weaknesses, it focuses on strengths. I have also seen where relationships I’ve had in the past were negative, and how to help make my current ones more positive (inspired by Week Nine’s Positive Psychology activity). I was also so inspired by the week and time I spent without my phone that I went on an entire trip through nature without technology. I ended up writing my final journalism article on this amazingly positive experience, allowing me to blend materials from different classes, which was awesome!

As far as my professional life is concerned, I have been inspired to look into visiting the career center before I leave for the break to get a better idea on how to cultivate my professional strengths to cater towards the career I really want to go in to. Next semester, I want to start working out and doing mindfulness yoga regularly. I was doing yoga spring semester but fell off this semester because I felt it would be too much to take on, even though I knew how much it was improving my mood and view of myself and my body. I am still working on using technology less and being more present with the friends and family I have left to cherish; I intend to be successful with this over the holidays!

I’ve already shared my insights with my journalism class and my family during breaks, but I also intend to pitch my Journalism article to a larger audience–my professor suggested Style Weekly–after a few edits. The article talks about how beneficial nature, quality time, and lack of technology were to my mental health on the trip, and how everyone should try things out to improve their mood. I was so invested and passionate about this experience because it inspired all the qualities I consider to be “good” about myself–and my top strength, appreciation of beauty, was most definitely cultivated amongst the beautiful Shenandoah mountains in early fall.

Overall, I have enjoyed this class so much more than I thought I would! Every exercise had a purpose and assisted me in learning the material!



Blog Post 3

Blog Post 3


Image result for mindfulness


The Science of Happiness class has been very interesting and informational. I took in everything we talked about with all seriousness and thought. The class really got me thinking about my life, and what things in my life are helping me live a better one. Some of the major lessons I learned were about positive psychology and Perma, positive relationships, and move/eat/sleep. I also really enjoyed the mindfulness practices. They were all very meaningful. Learning about how genetics is connected to so many things was very insightful, and when we did the family tree I really got the chance to see that. Some other things that we did for out weekly exercises, and talked about in class, such as, the strengths survey, the week we practiced mindfulness, and going screenless. I feel as those little things I have thought about before, and thought they weren’t going to help my well-being and happiness. Knowing them now, and the effects they can have on you, I feel differently. I am starting to think about the actions I am doing, and what kind of things in my daily life could change just a little bit to make me happier.

The mindfulness practices have been a complete game changer. I am just a complete bundle of stress and anxiety, and every night right after I shower and get ready for bed I meditate. It gives me a second to breathe, and allows me to not worry about anything and just be in the moment. It also has allowed me to have some of the greatest sleep I have ever had. Perma is something that I really think about, and am always trying to improve my happiness. All of the things that make up Perma, I feel like I have a good sense of and feel good about. Ever since learning about Perma, however, I have tried to improve on those things. It has actually been kind of stressful because it really has me reflecting, and trying to make the right choices for myself. I am not one for loving myself, and in all honesty I just don’t feel I deserve a pure happiness, so it can be stressful. After making these efforts though, I would say it has gotten easier and I feel better about myself.

I want to be an elementary school teacher after college, and in some schools they do this. They have mindfulness time, and it allows the students to take a minute to themselves and relax. I feel as if that is super important for them as students to have that time, and it is a skill I feel everyone should now. It can come in handy for them there whole life. I will definitely be implementing that skill in my classroom. I also will take what we learned about being a recovering ally, and we learned about substance abuse to help out some people who are very close to me and that I worry about. Some of them are students, and I have already told some of them about what resources on campus we have. I also feel like that is helping me make better decisions for myself.


Blog #3

Blog #3

As I reflect on the influence of the course lectures, I find it imperative to acknowledge how interwoven the teachings have been throughout semester. Ultimately, I was able to summarize the most impactful lessons for myself as equilibrium of the body and mind during the week 12 exercise. The consciousness is connected to your physical inhabitance. Similar to symbiotic relationships, if you disregard your body, you cause hindrance to the mind. If you nourish the physical aspect of your being, you are being attentive to your mind. This concept was later unraveled through weekly exercises and lectures, specifically sleep, nutrition, and exercise.  I’ve learned that sleep is important and not fulfilling the recommended requirement results in the mind not running at optimal performance. Sacrificing your scheduled sleep time for a little more cramming is never conducive for students. Nutrition is another important component to mind and body connection. Our energy is composed from what we choose to consume, if we fuel our bodies with dense and wasteful calories, we will not have the vitality to perform our tasks efficiently cause a lag in how our bodies may feel throughout the day. However, if we are able to be intuitive and smart about choices, we can generate long-lasting fuel that can sustain our bodies and mental performance. Lastly, I want to mention the benefits of exercise towards academic performance. My mindfulness increased and I felt more alertness just through spending a few minutes of the day being active.

These three components prompted me to becoming more resilient in working smarter, not harder. I enjoyed the benefits of sleeping and taking the time to exercise, but that also made me aware of time efficiency. I’ve incorporated the disconnection exercise during my study time so I can dedicate myself to focused work, putting my phone away and having my full attention on what I am doing in the moment has enhanced the feeling of ‘flow’. The satisfying feeling of achievement after completing tasks without the distraction of my phone and social media platforms has opened up the opportunity of enriching myself with more meaningful relationships with those around me. These are just a few changes I have attempted to make during the course and hope to continue the balance of body and mind through out my college career. I recently got a comment from a peer at a support group I attend and was told something along the lines “I want to be like you when I grow up, you seem like you have your life figured out.” Which left me dumbfounded at first, considering I am only 20 and often don’t know what I want a majority of the time. Simultaneously I thought of this course when the remark was made. I thought about the times where I felt pressure and frustration on how to successfully navigate the class structure. I came to the realization, for me personally, that the course has been about developing my own techniques towards positive experience and thought processes without sacrificing mental or physical health. I plan to share what I’ve learned inside the classroom with friends and family members and hopefully influence a life change. I’ve gathered so many to tools and resources to help me navigate future endeavors and I’m looking forward to sharing and continuing mindfulness with myself and others.

I picked this image because it candidly expresses the chaotic balance of life. Its easy to become over-stimulated in the world around us, but there is beauty and harmony in the ability to create equilibrium.




Blog Post #3

Blog Post #3

I still can’t wrap my head at the fact that this is the last week of classes! It is that time of the semester to look back at the last few months and reflect on what I have learned in this class.

A major lesson that I have learned about this semester and that is of great meaning to me would be the topic of positive psychology. I think it is safe to say that we all have something going on in our lives that can at times get the best of us. This semester has been a huge eye-opener and stressful one because I am currently trying to figure out if I am in the right major and if this is where I want to be for the next two years of my undergraduate studies. Since being introduced to methods to flourish as an individual through the PERMA model, I can see a slight change in the way I go about dealing with situations. Through the PERMA model, I have made a connection relating to positive relations. For instance, in class we learned about the importance of surrounding ourselves with positive and people that will allow us to grow as an individual. This topic stuck out to me because, for the most part, I enjoy the people that I surround myself with, but there are a few individuals that I question if I should continue having a friendship with. I think it easier to tell someone to cut an individual out of your life that is bringing you down, but it is a lot more complex to do so if the person has confided in you with all their problems. I do not want to simply let these individuals go because I know they need help, but I also want to grow as a positive individual. Another major lesson that I learned in class was the whole concept of substance abuse. Although I have learned about alcoholism and drugs throughout middle school and high school, it is another thing to learn about it in college. For instance, now that most of us are adults, we are becoming aware and seeing first-hand individuals suffer from substance abuse. I personally have friends who are occasional drinkers, but I am glad that I am aware of what to do if in fact one of my friends ever need help. I am also glad to know that VCU offers many resources such as Rams in Recovery and The Well. Lastly, I would like to mention that we should all be aware of the huge substance abuse problem that many individuals are sadly facing because it can happen to any one of us.

I can apply the PERMA and the positive relations in my personal and professional life by surrounding myself with people who are career driven, motivated, and determined to continue bettering themselves. Additionally, if there is ever a situation where a family, friend, or future co-worker is experiencing hardships with substance abuse I will be able to intervene and be a support system and an ally.

Although it was hard to begin, I have made a couple of positive changes in my life, the first being incorporating mindfulness into my everyday life. Since learning about the positive effects that mindfulness brings to an individual, I took it upon myself to begin partaking in mindfulness exercises before and after bed by listening to mindfulness exercises on Youtube. I must admit that things were going well for about a week as I was consistent with watching these videos, but eventually, I stopped watching the videos. I noticed that after I was done with the mindfulness videos, I still managed to stay up late checking my social media. I knew this method of mindfulness was not ideal for me so I decided to incorporate a different method of mindfulness in my everyday life which has been meditation. This time around, I set up a yoga matte in a corner of my room so I can be reminded to meditate daily. My yoga matte has been on the ground ever since and whenever I am feeling stressed (which has been daily), I take about half an hour of my day to meditate; sometimes I do it a couple of times a day. This method has worked wonders for me because I pass by yoga matte daily so I am constantly reminded to take time to myself and relax. Another mindfulness activity that I was introduced through this class and continue to use is the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. For those of you who don’t remember, this breathing exercise consists of: breathing in through your nose for four seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds, and finally exhaling for eight seconds. This breathing exercise has been a great addition to my life because I use it almost daily, especially when I am working on my assignments or right before I take an exam. I encourage you guys to also try this breathing exercise, especially in these upcoming weeks! I still need to work on the strengths that I scored low on from the VIA Strengths Survey. I think it is important to be aware of your strengths and weakness especially your weakness. I would like to work on improving my bottom five weaknesses because there is always room for improvement. Additionally, it is great to have concrete strengths in place in order to complete various tasks or simply interacting with other individuals.

It is important to take what we learned in class and reciprocate that knowledge to our social network, especially our personal network and social media network. I plan on continuing to post on my social media accounts my journey with mindfulness meditation. Regarding my personal network, I can share with my family and friends what I have learned in this class. I can also share with them what activities have helped me and have them partake in those activities as well.



Blog Post #3

Blog Post #3

Image result for happiness images

The major lessons that I learned in class this semester are that we are influenced not only by genetics, but also through intentional actions. This can be connected to mental health disorders and substance disorders. These disorders can be partly due to genetics, but the ways people decide to cope with these disorders will be determined by their intentional activities. Social well being is a topic that also plays a role as an intentional activity that can help cope with these disorders because the connections that we make can have a significant impact on different aspects of our lives. In our weekly reading, Sandstrom and Dunn constructed a study on how social interactions benefit our daily lives. They concluded that people with many strong and weak social ties, including those with the barista from Starbucks, were shown to have an impact of increased feelings of happiness and belonging. When I did the social network activity in class, I was surprised to see that I had many strong relationships and not many weak ones until I thought about my daily interactions with people who I didn’t think I was tied to. These topics were the most meaningful to me because they relate to how small pieces of one’s everyday life can impact them in the long run.

I will apply this to my social life by going out more and making connections with other people. Professionally, I understand that a simple “Hello” or a compliment to a coworker can go a long way in someone’s life. A change that I have started to make is how I address my friend who has substance use disorder. I have been able to talk with her about other problems that contribute to her substance use hoping that it will help her to limit her use. I still need to watch how I bring up the conversation of it because I can see that she gets frustrated when I try to mention it.

When class is over, I plan to share the information that I have learned with my family and friends by telling them what I’ve learned, the asking them to do it with me. I will not be able to include everything at one time, so I will introduce the more simpler aspects of what we learned first. As I come across inspiring quotes that relate to the topics that we discussed, I will continue to post them on my social media accounts because some people need to see things like that in order to stay motivated. I feel that the image that I provided relates to what I have learned this semester because it shows that what we choose to do and who we choose to surround ourselves do have an impact on our overall well being. 

Blog Post #3

Blog Post #3

I have learned so much this semester in my Science of Happiness class and I intend to tell you all some of that information in this post.

One of the biggest tools I have learned in this course is Mindfulness, which I have actively tried to apply to my everyday life. Learning about mindfulness alone has kept me just more aware of being mindful. I now constantly find myself reflecting on my actions when I have not been mindful.

One day we had a lecture where a women came in and talked about research supporting how technology like smart phones are actually making us more unhappy. Leaving that lecture I did some real self reflection and realized I usually pass time just by engaging with my phone instead of engaging in life or just myself. When we are on social media we are constantly giving away our time to people that we may not even really know or care about. This is time we are taking away from ourselves. One activity I have tried to incorporate is putting my phone in my pocket when walking from class to class. I was walking and looking at my phone at the same time before and I realized how cluttered it made my mind when I arrived at my next class. Ever sense implementing this practice I have just noticed so much more about my environment and nature. I now laugh when I walk down the street and people are staring at their phone.

I also learned a great deal when doing the final project for this course. My group was assigned to Acts of Giving, and I volunteered at Food Not Bombs. I really love the feeling of giving back and how incredible you feel once you have given something to someone else. In our presentation our group outlined the positive effects this has on your happiness and the research to back this is so solid. By doing something selfless you are actually doing something very powerful for yourself.

I want to apply what I learned in this project to my life gong forward. Something I have been thinking about doing is the Carver Program which works with at risk children at the Carver elementary school close to campus. I heard about the project last year when someone presented about working there in their end of the year project. I have always been interested in working there to help out but this semester I just felt like I was to busy. I want to see what I can do in the spring semester and help out their in any capacity possible. I have worked with children before in the past and it is so rewarding.

Another great skill we have practiced is meditation. Not only does this get you in a mindful state but also relaxes your body and relieves stress. We meditated before almost every class and I feel I have learned a lot from doing this. I have tried to do some sort of meditation in the mornings lately to help me get in the right mood for the day ahead. I chose the image below because it shows a person meditating and he is connecting all these things in his life. This reminds me of this class before of our mindful meditation sessions before class.


I have been sharing what I have learned in this class with a housemate of mine and with my mom and brother. I just think some of the information is very valuable and I want to share it. I have talk about mindfulness with my housemate and brother. A catchy phrase that my friends and I have come up with is “hang up and hang out” and we use it when one of our friends is on their phone when we are trying to talk to them. Something all my housemates do is when we eat together we put our phones in the middle of the table and know one will look at them the entire we eat. I have found this to lead to much better conversation.  I have also talked about things that we can be predisposed to because of our genetics with my mom. I have shared over social media some of what I have learned in those social media posts we have done on my twitter account. To be honest I am not really sure how I would continue to share what I have learned in this class on social media I need to keep thinking about that question.

I am so glad I ended up taking this class and I have already been referring teammates to take this class next year and some have already enrolled.

Blog post 3

Blog post 3

throughout this class we have learned many different lessons form many different people. All of these lessons have one common thread and that is you can make active life choices to increase you happiness and well being no matter your circumstances you can reach that flourishing stage if you are willing to put in the work. this all starts with fulfilling your basic needs such as sleeping, eating and exercising. for you mind to be at its best your body that supports it needs this is something I fully embrace as I try my best to eat healthy and work out as often as possible. once those are meet you can start to work on accomplishing the things set forth in the PERMA model to achieve this by implementing other things we learned in class such as staying off our phones around bed time to help with sleep and off social media to prevent over comparing. mindfulness is also another very important factor and a great way to help you analyze a situation to help prevent spiraling and keep things in perspective. Establishing solid connections with others who are flourishing is also very important according to research your happiness is increased by not only having these relationships but these relationships being with happy people. so its in your best interest to translate all of the science we have learned into actionable things for you to use not only your self but also for your friends and family to use. therefore I intend to try to spread these ideas to my close friends as im not one for big posts on social media but just by pointing them to research that could help them get through everyday life can be very useful. All of this can’t be accomplished at once but I’ve started to add in mindfulness into my day as often as possible I attend the ICA event in order to help get a more professional guided experience as its a nice change up from practicing it at home. another big take away for me is lowering my time on my phone as this has been an issue thats plagued me for quite sometime i’ve already seen major decreases in usage which is always good to see that these changes are possible. my biggest challenge will be embracing the changes I need to make to my academic mindset in order to put me in a growth mindset instead of the fixed mindset I find myself in quite often.

I feel as though this image best signifies my feelings towards this class as all applying all of these lessons will take time as its journey and it won’t be easy but if you prepare you can reach the top (flourish)

Blog Post #3

Blog Post #3

I added this photo because “cause and effect” has been very important for me to remember… that everything has a cause and effect. I learned how important it is to be present in making decisions in my life so that I am able to foresee the consequences, and make a call on whether or not something would lead to a positive outcome and ultimately my happiness. The words “stop, breathe, and think” mean a lot, because something so simple is so powerful. Breathing is so important to everything we do, and so healthy for the mind. Breathing practices in mindfulness and meditation have been a great help to me.

At the end of this summer on August 15th I was hospitalized for pancreatitis. This illness was caused by alcoholism, an addiction that I suffered with for 3 years without seeking help. That was the last day I had a drink and then I visited Rams in Recovery, where I became a member, and was recommended this class. This semester is the first that I’ve taken more than 1 class in ages, and I was nervous. My dealings with addiction started long ago in my teens, and in the past couple of years I have developed anxiety, where there were times when it was crippling. I didn’t take this class expecting anything, but of all the topics we covered these past couple of months… I learned so much and have really put it into practice in my life.  I really liked that at the start of this class we were given the opportunity to learn about ourselves; to learn about our own thought processes and recognize our individual strengths. When I took the VIA Strengths survey before, my top strengths were honesty and leadership, while today my test reflects my top two strengths as bravery and forgiveness. This was interesting to me… and I wondered if it had anything to do with the changes I’ve made since I quit alcohol, joined Rams in Recovery, and started taking this class.

I really started to realize this when we were in about week 7 and were discussing mindfulness and meditation… and learning how to disconnect. I began to practice mindfulness, completing mindfulness activities for our assignments, but realized how calmed I became after taking a step back to be in the present. I continued mindfulness activities about twice a week, and i’m still going strong with it today. It helps me. The most important things I learned, the most impactful realizations I’ve had over these months have been small things that I would never have thought would be so significant. An example is: simply breathing. As part of my meditation activities the instructions to breathe reminded ME that before, I rarely took a moment to just take a deep breath. After practicing mindfulness frequently, I’ve gotten better at it, such as one would with anything they spend time practicing. By that I mean that it is easier for me to become present and remained focus during those periods of meditation. Mindfulness and meditation are now a big part of my life and I am grateful for learning those useful tools.

This semester I learned how important it was to take time to disconnect from distracting tech devices and be present in the moment. When we did the activity in class I did alright, but outside of class, in the beginning, I found it quite difficult to step away from my smartphone. When I didn’t have it, I realized how much I relied on it… and not just to communicate, but, to be happy. Considering Fredrick’s Broaden and Build Theory, relying on social media likes was never going to really make me happy. It was never going to go anywhere. The dopamine rush would be fleeting, and wouldn’t lead to happiness in the long run. I like Fredrick’s theory, because sometimes I feel it is as simple as just thinking of something that brings you joy, no matter what it is, and to put that emotion in to everything else you do. I practiced this frequently and found that it helped me to stay relaxed and calm in times when I was frustrated, such as dealing with a spat between friends.

As to relationships, the tools I have been given in this class have allowed me to assess the value of my relationships, with my friends and my family. There were some friends lost… but those few were lost over a lack of communication that we both were self aware of and decided not to attempt to rectify it. That to me showed how much we really cared about being in each other’s lives, and taught me to prioritize with the people that have an interest in both my everyday life as well as my recovery. My recovery has consisted of some ups and downs, but mostly ups. I haven’t had much trouble with cravings, but have felt the need to replace it and had to fight those urges. Being a psychology major in psychology classes and classes such as SOH have allowed me to actively be in the front seat, at the wheel of my brain, so to speak. I feel that when I am actively assessing my feelings and emotions that I am able to change them, by performing activities I know will boost my mood and affect my brain chemicals.

The most important activity to help my anxiety besides meditation is definitely exercise. I worked with a personal trainer in the gym once a week for the past 9 months and have improved a lot. I am proud of my improvement, where I have lost half the weight I gained from drinking and gained a large amount of muscle. My favorite part about working out is of course the endorphins, the “runner’s high”, I feel great when I am running or lifting and have learned that exercise, even something as simple as a half mile walk to get some fresh air can greatly reduce my feelings of stress and anxiety. I feel that i have learned an abundance of useful tools to address my anxiety, stress, and aid my recovery.

My recovery is ongoing of course, and through all of my experience with it I feel that the things I have learned in this class have perhaps been even more helpful than AA/NA programs I have been apart of over the years. Its imperative that people in recovery receive concrete solutions to the tragedy that is living with an addiction to a substance. I have been quite pleased with the way most of the people in my life have aided me in my recovery, and am thankful for them. The changes I have made in my social network since I quit drinking have allowed me to achieve positive change by not being brought down by others who do not want to better themselves. I am aware how much impact close friendships have on the people in them, and will continue to vet the people that come into my life as I am going through a sensitive time and really, need all the help I can get right now.

Overall, this semester,  the weekly activities we were assigned and completed were of a great help, as these topics were not only introduced, but we were all able to put them to practice in our own individual lives. This was great because some of these activities such as mindfulness/meditation, and disconnecting from devices, is not something that they would do unprompted. Being introduced to these things was great because we were able to choose whether we wanted to continue applying these tips and tricks to our lives. Many suffer with mental illnesses, anxiety, depression, and addiction. This class has taught me that the individual has the power to change their own lives and make themselves happy through actively making changes. Positive psychology is meant to be the study of how people can live the happiest and most fulfilling lives possible, and so far these psychologists have done great work. I think the best thing I can say besides how thankful I am for those tools, is that this class really gave me a motivation kick, something I desperately needed. I will definitely continue to use everything I learned in this class in my life going forward, and I am going to miss it. :’)

SOH Blog Post #3

SOH Blog Post #3

During this semester I have learned a lot of things but everything we learned all seems to comeback to 2 main ideas, the PERMA model and the genetics and happiness model.  From these two topics I have become more aware on my outlook on happiness especially since 40% of your happiness is based on actions that you take on a daily basis. Some other topics that I thought were meaningful were eat, move, sleep because I learned so much about my own sleeping habits after doing the sleep journal and since then have attempted to stop napping as much as I had been although it has been really hard and I will have to keep trying and improving at this. Another topic I found meaningful was  social well being because I enjoyed the  weekly reading ‘Social Interactions and Well-Being: The Surprising Power of Weak Ties’ by Gillian M. Sandstrom and Elizabeth W. Dunn, in this reading I learned the importance of having weak ties which is someone you may see regularly but are not close to each other.  This reminded me of last year where I would go to Starbucks almost everyday and always ask for extra caramel in my drink and the barista ended up learning my name and added the extra caramel without me asking. I really enjoyed going there often and having that slight connection and it did actually make me happier. The last topic I liked was the grit scale because during the lecture we took quizzes and I noticed that I didn’t have a high level of grit because I cant stick to one thing for a long time which made me determined to try and improve on that.

Something that I want to do to share all the information I learned is to mention these things to people I care about which I actually have already started doing by telling my friends and boyfriend on how to help their anxiety and maybe try mindfulness meditation.  I’m not certain on what to do over social media but I could post the link to the calm app on my my social media to have people try it.

Source Citation:



Blog Post 3 – Everything Comes Full Circle

Blog Post 3 – Everything Comes Full Circle

From  these past few weeks, we discussed the importance of living an active and healthy lifestyle and Academic and Social Well-being. All the points made in class were things that I already had knowledge of generally, but I do admit it gave me a better perspective on what action and steps that I need to take to have an even better successful journey.

We did an assignment centered around Eat, Move, and Sleep. I chose to focus on exercise for the week as I was already starting to try and get back in shape and work out regularly. It was a bit of a challenge to keep going near the end of the week as assignments and my work schedule had gotten in the way of things, and this made me realize that I can not just bail on my exercise because life can get tough. So I had decided to work with my schedule instead of against it. For instance I usually would get up at 5:30 every morning to get a workout in at the gym in my apartment, and some days that works out fine, other days it doesn’t and that can be discouraging. So instead of beating myself up when that happens, I may just bike a longer route to school to get those extra minutes of exercise in, jog up the stairs, or even do something crazy like walk an hour to walk (which I have done before). Main point is, as long as I’m active and feeling encouraged, then everything would be all good.

Another activity that I enjoyed was when we ranked our needs, could have, and don’t needs for our future career and it did give me a better perspective on what my priorities are for my career. I plan on becoming a Clinical Psychologist so naturally my top priority was to help others in need and a could have but not necessary element was a high salary. A high salary is very much appreciated indeed, however from the beginning I knew that money is not my drive for a career.

I will be graduating this spring and planning on taking a year off to find research and internship opportunities to better my academic and career well-being before applying for grad school. Being in this class and hearing these lectures has given me the courage to talk to my advisers about my career plans, go to career advising, and even contacting real Clinical Psychologists and asking them what they love about their job and what they would do differently.

SOH Blog Post #3

SOH Blog Post #3

The major lessons I have learned in this class have related to knowing yourself. Whether it be your genetic predispositions or your stress and anxiety triggers. You are the only person in charge of making yourself happy and there are proven steps to help all individuals reach that goal. This class taught me that it does take time and effort to become happy and stay happy it is not something that will magically happen over night. I learned what is in my control to make me happy and what I can’t change so I don’t focus on it.


I have learned a lot about making good relationships from this class and how to maintain them. This has impacted my friend circle which did get smaller but also became more of a pillar I can rely on. I am also someone they can rely on and be there when someone isn’t having a good day. My relationships have become less casual and more in depth with how each person is actually feeling. Which has been great for me as I feel a lot of anxiety graduating and uncertainty of what is next.


The tools we have learned in the past weeks have helped that anxiety and stress. I am actually eating vegetables in multiple meals a day now which I hadn’t done in two years. Which has made me physically but more so mentally feel better. This combined with me trying to get the gym more have really improved my mental state. It may seem like common knowledge that taking care of your body will make you feel better. Yet as a college student sometimes you just lose track of things and taking care of yourself seems to be the first thing we discard for some reason. The last few weeks were a good reminder of how important it is to take care of your body so you feel your best.


The positive psychology reading that we did in the beginning of the semester really stuck with me throughout the year. The reading talks about how positive psychology will study what “makes life worth living” which I found really interest. I do believe that we need psychologists to focus on depression, bipolar disorder, and other diseases that hinder people. But the study of what drives happiness can have such a big impact for a huge number of people.


The biggest impact this class has had on me is that I now truly try and take care of my body. My mom has even joined in for the last month and we have conversations about how we are feeling physically of if we skipped a day. She has motivated me by out working me and telling me to stop skipping days. She always says if a 50 some odd year woman can do it so can you. I would have skipped a lot more days of eating right and going to the gym if it wasn’t for her.


Once I graduate I do plan to share the little tricks that I thought were helpful. The exercise where we choose what we would most like in a job and what we could live without was a great exercise. By narrowing down the traits you can realistically have at a job really put what you want into perspective and identifies what you need. That along with taking 5 minutes to meditate when entering a different space to make sure you are present is what I will pass on the most.

Blog Post 3

This class has taught me many major lessons regarding mental health and positive thinking. One of the biggest concepts that I learned about and I feel helped me improve my mental health was mindfulness. I honestly did not really think that mindfulness is real and there is science behind it until I took this class but afterwards, I started using the techniques we have learned to deal with my anxiety and I saw improvements. I also really liked the different assessments we took like the one about strengths or susceptibility to addiction because they helped me understand different aspects of my personality and why I reacted in certain ways to situations. I have panic attacks and at first I had no idea what was causing them but after learning about behavioral tendencies in this class, I started picking up signs in certain situations to see why I was having the attacks.

As I stated previously, I struggle with anxiety, and something I started doing is every time I feel that I am going to have an anxiety attack, I practiced mindfulness, just like how we do at the start of every class. I also started going to yoga and I attended the mindfulness session that happened at the ICA this semester. These simple tasks started showing results, and along with going to Vcu counseling, I have been seeing improvements with my mental health, and specifically with dealing with my anxiety. In the future I plan to continue practicing mindfulness and also fostering healthy relationships. I think that creating positive relationships can be difficult while in college. Mainly because you meet so many people every day and I am an extrovert and I love to meet new people, so I want to become friends with everyone. But what I have learned is that it is more important to have some strong healthy friendships than to have a bunch of superficial ones. So every time I feel like someone in my life is bringing me negativity I go through a thought process of whether its just a situational problem or there is a problem in the relationship and if I feel that it is in the relationship, I try to remove myself from that friendship because it is better for my mental health.

I have actually been talking about this class with my friends all through out this semester and suggesting more people to take it! But I plan to share more knowledge through sharing more articles on my social media, being more open about mental health and different healthy coping mechanisms with my social network, and just using positive methods to help people who are struggling. I think the last unit when we learned about recovery and substance abuse has equipped me to help people get help. I also will tell people to become recovery allies because I think that was a big learning experience .

Mindfulness and Wellness

Blog Post #3

Blog Post #3

For the past three years of college, happy moments for me were short and rare. When sad days occurred, the first thing I would do was call my parents. My mom would always say that I was getting in the way of my happiness, but I never really believed her. Because I was coming up on my senior year, my number one goal was to make this not only the best year of college, but the best year of my life. In order for me to do that, I needed to find out how to obtain happiness and keep it. This was the reason I enrolled in the “Science of Happiness” course.

I admit that I didn’t read a lot about what the course was going to offer me before I enrolled or even before the first day of class and I assumed that this class was going to teach me how happiness was genetically-based When Dr. Dick gave her lecture on “How Genetics AND Environment Influence Your Behavior” and I read her research paper, I gained a deeper understanding of how the environment also plays a vital role in a positive life as you get older. That lecture set a foundation for me of what this class was going to be about. As the semester went on, I learned there was not one path to a positive life, specifically I began to understand how I can change my environment to lead a happier life, as well as how I can use this information to help others.

One of the lessons I learned was when it comes to living a more positive life, everyone has different ways of achieving that goal. This stood out to me most in the “Positive Psychology” and “Mindfulness” lectures. What I liked about this exercise was it showed how everyone does not, or cannot, achieve happiness in the same way. From the class “wordcloud,” you could see everyone’s top five strengths and the uniqueness of those strengths. Therefore, this suggested that the techniques for students to lead a more positive life have to be tailored to a person’s strengths. Additionally, in the mindfulness lecture, I learned a few examples of “mindful” techniques such as breathing, eating, coloring, and exercising. I feel that more important than learning what some of the techniques are and knowing there are many techniques to use to achieve mindfulness was learning that the best techniques are the ones that work for you. For me, I discovered that walking around campus worked best for me. When I was able to take twenty minutes at least twice a day to walk around campus and enjoy the day, I was in a better mood and I felt more grateful for that day , which was also how I was able to exercise my top strength, gratitude.

This class also helped me make sense of what my mom was trying to say. In the middle of the semester, I realized that the main reason why I had a hard time achieving happiness these past three years was because I never tried to change anything. Happiness does not come overnight and you don’t have to do any grand gestures to achieve it. While I added mindful walks and exercising my gratitude to help improve my mood, mostly what helped me more was making changes in my daily routine. Instituting small changes from other class lectures also greatly improved my mood. For example, the “Emotional Resilience” lecture influenced me to shut off most electronics after 10:30 pm every night. And, after the “Wellbeing – Eat and Sleep” lectures, I decided to stop leaving the TV on while I slept and I meal prepped every Sunday. These small changes made me feel like I had more time in the day to get things done, while still being able to enjoy each day. Not only did these changes give me more time during the day, but I believe these things allowed my brain to “shut down” during the night. I really felt more rested and more positive than I did in the past.

Even though these changes work for me now, they may not work for me in the future. I realize my most stressful events usually happen in the spring semester and I also recognize that there are going to be more stressful days as I grow older. Probably, important in this recognition is the realization that if these techniques are not leading to continued improvement, then I have learned not to remain stagnant. I need to keep making changes to my techniques until I find what is right and what works well for me at that time. I also know that I can continue making improvements to my happiness. For example, I learned that some of my bottom strengths are forgiveness and creativity. Rather than just focusing on my top strength exercises, I can also integrate techniques that incorporate the bottom strengths. Another place I can improve in my life is in my thought processes. In my “Automatic Thoughts” exercise, I learned that I think the worse first so I won’t get my hopes up. I can start changing that by thinking of more positive outcomes and taking positives from negative outcomes.

Not only do I want to just help myself, but I plan to use what I learned from this class to help others. I plan to use the information I learned to help my friends, family and teammates. If my friends, family, and teammates are in need, I will start off by just being there so they can talk to me. Hopefully, I can give them positive advice when they need it. If there are situations where I believe I cannot help, I will offer resources so they can consult with a professional who knows how to help them. In some ways, I have already started to help others by sharing information I learned from this class. When my parents are stressed, I suggest they take a deep breath, remind them that things will be alright, and suggest even a short “mindful” walk. Even more important, my parents have commented about the suggestions I have made and the noticeable changes in my mood this semester.

Overall, I am so thankful for being in this class. I feel more confident about having a great senior year. The image that I chose to represent what I learned was a quote. This quote is somewhat similar to what my mom says to me. “Happiness won’t just come to me unless I decide to find it. And while people can help me, how I achieve my happiness depends on me.”

blog post #3

blog post #3

The topics discussed during this semester have all built on top of each other. We have learned skills to help in all areas of our lives. Some of these skills include being mindful, having emotional resilience, being able to identify our strengths and weaknesses, and how to have more positive and meaningful relationships. Learning about how our genes affect our happiness through our attitudes and behaviors in the first part of this class helped open the door to understand how we can control our own happiness based on things that feel out of our hands. After this we learned about other topics that helped teach us how to grow the skills we were learning about like positive psychology, physical wellbeing, social emotional learning, and social wellbeing. We learned about these skills through readings and class lectures. We were then able to practice and put many of these skills into use through homework and own personal experiences. The most meaningful topic to me from this semester was learning about mindfulness and how important it is because a lot of the other skills and coping techniques we learned about would not work as well if a person was not mindful or didn’t know what mindfulness is. Mindfulness, to me, seems like the base building block of all the skills we discussed this semester. I found all the topics interesting and helpful in different ways. Our class discussions were very interesting when people wanted them to be and I felt that as a class we broke down a lot of the stigmas behind harder topics like unhealthy relationships and substance abuse. Overall, my experience of this class was very useful and eye opening in many ways. I found it refreshing to have a class that focused just on how to better one’s life and I feel that everyone at VCU should take this class or that other classes should use some of the information we learn about in their own material in order to benefit the students more.

This class has really helped me form an idea about how to achieve the best life possible. I have made changes already since the beginning of the semester by practicing mindfulness through a few different ways that we learned about in class. I have started doing yoga and pilates as a type of mindful movement and exercise and I also practice mindful breathing exercises every morning to start my day. I have found that doing these simple things every week has significantly improved my mental health and has decreased the stress I feel on a daily basis. I plan on continuing to practice mindfulness in different ways to keep it new and fresh in my life. I think I still struggle with some of the other topics we learned about like having a set sleep schedule and being mindful about when and where I eat my meals. I usually eat while watching TV and I also fall asleep on the couch watching TV before I got to bed so those are both things I need to be more mindful of. Also I feel like I still use my phone more than I should on a daily basis. I plan to work on these by trying to use more of the skills we learned about in class and also by limiting my daily screen time. I think using these skills and working on improving my weaknesses will help control my stress levels as I move into the next stages of my life after graduation. Having these skills in a professional setting will help me stand out and be able to connect and communicate easier because I will not be as stressed in the situation. These skills have and will continue to improve my personal relationships because they have taught me healthier ways to be in those relationships and how to be a more supportive and open person in general.

I have already shared much of what I’ve learned in this class to my family and friends and they have all began to make small changes of their own to help improve their lives. I plan to continue to spread this knowledge to anyone who will listen because I believe the skills we learned about in this class are needed to live a happy life. My goal for the future is to be in the psychology field in some way or another and I know these skills will be helpful for many people I will come into contact with. I am grateful for the information discussed in this class because it confirms much of what I want to do with my life which is helping people find a natural and heathy way to relieve stress and increase quality of life without having to rely on medication.

I chose the image above because I felt that it had a lot of the main topics we discussed this semester in class. This image shows that mental health is not based solely on one aspect of life but on many working together and that having the skills shown in the picture leads to a healthier and happier life.


End of Semester Reflections

End of Semester Reflections

The biggest lesson I learned from the content this semester, was that I have control over my life and well-being.  Despite genetic influences and external context, we have power over our intentional activity. We have control over who we let into our life, our physical well-being, our technology use, and our own thoughts.  Implementing changes to improve these aspects in my life has been an important learning and growing experience.

Practicing positive psychology everyday has been a work in progress.  The most challenging part has been stopping automatic negative thoughts when people around me are negative.  It is easy for other people to control my mood, but practicing mindfulness has been helpful in these instances.   The weekly exercise we did, asking 3-5 friends what they like about us, inspired me to create a bulletin board in my room of cards and notes from my close family members and friends.  It is nice to have some of my meaningful notes in a place where I can easily look at everyday. Not only does it improve my attitude, but it makes me practice gratitude toward my relationships.  I have been able to drastically improve my practice of gratitude, which was low on my VIA Strengths Test. The bulletin board is the picture I have chosen to summarize what I have learned. For me, it illustrates positive relationships and gratitude, it reminds me to be mindful in my interactions with others, and encourages me to share my happiness with my own social network.  

I hope to improve my professional life by making an appointment at Career Services.  I have started to think more about what I value in a career. I am a junior this year, and feel that there is more I can do to enhance my academic and career well-being.  First, I hope to improve my sleeping habits. I have adjusted my class schedule for next semester to better accommodate the changes I want to make in my sleeping habits. I attended a sunrise yoga event on campus this semester with a friend.  While I discovered yoga is not for me (it was a little too slow-paced for my short attention span), I did learn that waking up early to exercise made me energized for the day and go to bed on time. I was also able to focus better in my classes that day.  Moving forward, I hope to implement some type of exercise into my life. I think I would enjoy hiking, because it seems like it would also be a great mindful activity. A study we read for class found that waking up early and eating breakfast both contributed to higher GPAs for college students.  Hiking in the morning over the weekend and getting breakfast afterward might be a good way I can make significant changes to my academic well-being.

I have been able to share new insights within my personal network, specifically with my close friends and roommates.  From this information, my roommates and I have initiated small changes in our lives. For instance, once a week we have “family dinner” in which we all contribute to a homemade meal and leave our phones in our rooms during dinner.  We also have been motivating each other to study and work toward our goals. One of my roommates actually pulled me out of bed, hid my phone, and made me a checklist of things to do. Because I am a terrible procrastinator and have trouble initiating real change, despite wanting to, I am very grateful to have positive relationships that push and challenge me.  Having strong ties in my life with people who want the best for me has contributed to my greater feelings of happiness. I plan on sharing what I have learned by practicing gratitude and mindfulness interventions with people in my social network. By having more meaningful interactions with some of my weaker ties, such as my co-workers or classmates, I will also be able to improve my social and emotional well being.  

Positive recovery was a meaningful topic for me this semester, because a family member has struggled with alcoholism for as long as I can remember.  Although I have a better understanding of the topic, it is still hard for me to be an ally to someone who has made my own life extremely difficult (forgiveness is also low on my list of VIA strengths).  I do, however, think I can share some new techniques in order to bring new meaning, gratitude, and positivity into his life, so that over time we can improve our relationship.


Science of Happiness Blog post #3

Science of Happiness Blog post #3

Science of Happiness Blog post #3

Image result for happiness


The ending lectures for SOH I believe were the most impactful. I’ve had friends ask me about this class and even tell me that I’ve changed since I started this class. I try to apply teachings/lessons from each lecture to my life and truly believe this course has truly impacted my way of thinking, social interactions and more.

The remaining lectures brought the course full circle. It was centered on academic and physical wellbeing, social interactions and even personal values when looking for work. The last topic resonated the most with me. We did an activity where we ranked our values and whether they were, needed, slightly needed or whether we could be without. Since I am graduating this semester and have been applying for more professional jobs, I realized the jobs I was applying for did not completely align with my morals. They were primarily to fulfill the role of being employed right after college. Due to societal and familial pressure we often let our career become our identity. We go so far as to let our careers, either as students or as professionals, dictate and worth and it should be this way.

Another topic that really made me think was when we talked about social networks and happiness. You have an increased percentage of being happy if you surround yourself with happy people. This percentage increases if the people you surround yourself with have surrounded themselves with other happy individuals as well. Relationship also affect mortality, with healthier relationships increasing mortality and toxic ones decreasing it accordingly. Very seldom have I really considered the mental state of the people I have surrounded myself with. Even less likely have I considered the impact my social network is having on me.

This course, if taken seriously, offers valuable information that is well founded with years of research. I have mentioned this course or at the very least the information lectured in class with friends. I have enjoyed this each and every class and will continue to encourage any and everyone I can to take this course or something like it because it has truly been beneficial.

Blog Post #3

Blog Post #3

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney)

Blog Post #3

Reaching a state of well-being, a place where you can say outright that you are happy, where you do not have to always fake a smile is something everyone thrives for. You hear so many different ways to get there, specific medications and therapies, meditations and activities, but really what it all stems from is the basics of taking care of your body. So many overlook the importance of the ‘eat, move, sleep’ movement, keying it as too simple but this is where everything grows from.

Think of your body as a vehicle, you nourish it, you drive it, and you let it rest so why do people struggle so hard to do this for themselves. During the lecture about ‘Eat, Sleep, and Move’ we learned that treating our body well should always be the first step. We need to eat healthy in order to fuel us, you cannot drive a car with no gas so how to do expect to function without the proper nutrients. We also need rest, time to let our body recover after a long day so out engines do not overheat. The last vital ingredient is to move so are systems do not rust. Exercise releases positive endorphins that improve your mood, this by no mean means you need to run a marathon but every little step helps.

While these three things will not cure your depression they are vital in reaching that goal. I believe that before anything else the concept of self-care must be learned. This in particular, has proven very helpful to me. I exercise so that I can allow myself to eat, I eat to allow myself to exercise, and I sleep to allow these things to take effect. On a broader scale, this class taught us way to reach these goals, and how it does not have to be a huge time commitment. In one of the weekly readings, ‘Relationship of smartphone use severity with sleep quality, depression, and anxiety in university student’, we learned that simply putting you device away an hour before bed can vastly improve sleep quality and this in toe helps mood.

I do and will continue to try to incorporate these lessons into my life. I will make sure my needs are always met so my body is strong enough to jump the hurdles thrown my way. I also wish to work some of the beneficial habits I have learned into the lives of those close to me. I will continue to try and motivate or drag people to exercise. I will explain ways to achieve better sleep, as this is something I have noticed made the hugest difference in my life. I will make myself vulnerable to really show the change these simple steps can cause. I will help spread the message.


Weeks 6-10

Weeks 6-10

Image result for how you interact with the world

I noticed that the common factor in the topics covered in the past 5 weeks is one’s self. For Social Emotional Learning (SEL), one of the skills is self-awareness. I strongly believe that if you do not know what works for you and what doesn’t, then it will impact how you interact with others and how everything else will impact you. I think it’s important to recognize our strengths and our weaknesses, which can sometimes be the same thing, in order to grow as an individual. For example, I’ve been told that I am a perfectionist. It is my strength because I am very detailed-oriented, I continuously push myself in order to see how far I can go, and I will put in more than 100% in what I do. However, this is also my weakness because I will obsess over minor things and there will be times I will feel unsatisfied with what I’ve created because I’ll feel as though I could’ve done better or done something differently.

So before going on to developing the other skills that make up SEL (self-management, relationship skills, responsible decision-making, and social awareness), we have to “recognize our own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence our behavior” as well as “assess one’s strengths and limitations”. SEL relates to what we learned during the first 5 weeks since we took the VIA survey for our positive psychology exercise in order to determine what our individual strengths were and in which skills we needed to improve on. I thought the “304 Ways to Use Your Strengths” document that Dr. Walsh shared with the class was useful in order to accomplish this. I’ve only looked at how to use my top strength, which is Appreciation for Beauty & Excellence, just to see how I’ve incorporated it into my daily life but I plan on looking at my lowest 5 skills (forgiveness, spirituality, humility, perseverance, and prudence) in order to further develop them.

When I saw that we would be touching on mindfulness, I was really excited since I find it very useful and enjoy practicing it! Mindfulness allows us to become fully aware of our current emotions and thoughts that are going through our head at the present moment. By practicing mindfulness, we are able to bring our attention back to things we lose sight of/control over when we are overwhelmed by internal and external factors that affect our overall well-being, such as the way we breathe, our heartbeat, the sensations we feel throughout our entire body, etc. This allows us to return to a neutral/calm state in order to figure out how to tackle what is that we’re struggling with. I felt that this topic was relevant to depression and mood states as well as positive psychology since mindfulness has been used as a coping method for those who struggle with their mental health. It relates to Fredrickson’s Broaden and Build Theory because by practicing mindfulness, we’ll be aware of what is negatively affecting us and how to cope with these negative emotions to return to a positive mood by utilizing other coping strategies (ex: reaching out to people in our support system).

The other topics, Emotional Resilience in a Digital Age, Positive Relationships, and Getting to Know Yourself also focus on one’s self since how we view ourselves can be impacted by technology, others, and by our own thoughts. We unconsciously use technology more than we think we do and are often distracted by it rather than utilizing it to our advantage by being productive, neglect taking care of other responsibilities, or divert our attention on what we are doing or who we are interacting with. I don’t know when I began to realize I felt this way, but the constant overflow of messages and notifications that appear on my phone’s screen make me extremely anxious. There are days I wish I could just throw away my phone and not worry about it, but it’s difficult to do that since I use my phone to keep in touch with others and stay up-to-date about my interests via social media. With Apple’s recent update, I’ve been able to limit my phone usage using the Screen Time service and keep track of how often I use my phone (ex: how much time I spend on social media), which I think is something we can all benefit from since our phones are a huge distraction.

Another reason why I try to reduce my phone usage, especially with social media, is because I find myself comparing myself to others. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does I do feel bad about myself, mostly when I see posts in regards to body image and overall appearance. I’m somewhat insecure about my skin (I’ve been dealing with acne for as long as I can remember) and my weight even though I’m considered skinny, but because we are the ones living in our bodies, no one will ever understand why we feel the way we do even if we perceive each other’s “flaws” as “goals”. It also doesn’t help that what other people post make us feel like we need to change our appearances or that they’re living a more fulfilling life. But not everything is as it seems since most people tend to share only the positive things that occur in their lives.

So depending on how we utilize technology is whether it can positively or negatively impact us. We use it as a way to stay in touch with close ones, which is how this topic intertwines with positive relationships. Positive relationships deals with all types of relationships: the one we have with ourselves,  acquaintances, friends, family, and significant others. I feel as though the relationship we have with ourselves is something that is constantly changing since we ourselves are changing, for better or for worse. The people who we maintain relationships with are the ones who impact whether or not we grow or decline as an individual. I think it’s important to take a step back and reflect on the relationships we have with others and why we still do. I think about that a lot with my friends because with the ones I’ve been friends with for a while, I wonder if I’m still friends with them just because of our past or if I still genuinely like them. And with the new friends I’ve made in college, I wonder if our friendship will last when we no longer see each other in person as often. However, I am aware of who is a part of my support group, which is something we touched on during the positive relationships topic. They’re the ones I trust and can feel like I can be myself with and we genuinely care about each other. Like we stated in class, they’re the people who will be there for the good, the bad, and everything else in between. which I believe is something important for everyone to have. Without a support group, it can be detrimental for an individual since there is no one they can lean on and are most likely to fall into risky behaviors.

I chose the following image since in order to “conquer” one’s self, you must know yourself and for the reasons I explained above about how the topics covered were about ourselves.


Blog post 2

Blog post 2

  1. Topics covered in weeks 6-10 relate to each other because social-emotional learning, emotional resilience, mindfulness, and positive relationships all deal with aspects of our lives that are life skills that aren’t necessarily taught in school but are important in having a non stressful life. Dealing with our emotions is very important because they influence everything we do, by how we feel.
  2. Through everything i’ve learned in this class it’s reinforced the notion that we should work to accept everyone, even ourselves and our mistakes or people who have wronged us, and move forward with things we can change for the better and try to accept and move on from things we cannot.
  3. I’ve tried yoga classes at the gym for the first time, this semester. It was amazing! I go almost every day now. I really enjoy our morning meditation sessions, and try to be more mindful with everything I do.  I try to practice meditation daily as well.
  4. I try to be more like the lotus: water repellent even as I float in a pool of water. I try to let the stress of the world roll right off my back, as I know I have the tools to get through it in a cohesive, respectful manner and keep my composure.  That is liberation.
My Biggest Addiction

My Biggest Addiction


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I am addicted to my phone. No, I’m not implying the advancement of technology is inherently bad. I view technology as an ideal tool to connect to enriching, thought-provoking, and uplifting material. However, I want to discus the darker side of technology I have personally experienced. One of my biggest struggles I faced in high school was with social media apps, specifically Instagram, I had created a following of over 10,000 on the platform with my art work during my junior year. I would spend hours upon hours refreshing pages and consuming whatever the algorithm brought to my attention. I eventually had a breaking point from the pressure of the instilled notion that I had to cater to an audience, I was no longer illustrating for myself, rather focused on the idea of staying relevant which caused me anxiety. Oddly enough, after deleting the app that consumed my time entirely I found myself happier that ever. It wasn’t that the content I was viewing and creating was bad. I will always see value and see investment in watching TED talks, documentaries, or reading reliable articles, but reading and watching hours of content was detrimental to my productivity. Cutting out social media has given me freedom to pursue things. This year I decided to pick up reading and exercising, I’ve also have been given positions on campus such as Diversity Ambassador and New Student Orientation Leader. Not having the hindrance of social media as much has given me the opportunity to build upon my own potential character and overall good for myself. Although I am still working and occasionally struggling with balancing social media and using it as a tool and not a distraction, I am proud of my progress. I’ve been using an app to help me along the way called Off-Time, it allows to black list certain apps, I can choose times during the day where I am allowed to use those applications, otherwise I am blocked from logging on. I’ve also implemented “time-boxing”, when I had a following on Instagram I would spend hours replying to art related questions and messages. This would negatively affect my sleep schedule and productivity. Now that I am doing more activities outside of social media, I’ve started boxing out certain times in the day to be doing specific things to better stay on track and off my phone from distractions. Overall, I am getting better with handling my addiction and improving my health as well. In a reading for the class we were show a correlation from the regression analyses that displaying depression and anxiety were associated to sleep quality. (Demirci et al., 2015). I’m learning social skills and practicing public speaking that have otherwise been stalled from lack of real-life interaction prior. I now feel more optimistic for the future and hope to continue limiting my use of my phone.

Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2

Through out these last weeks we have learned a lot more things about happiness and what we can do to be happier. One of the things we did to implement happiness was putting our phones away during class and then looking back on it and describe how we felt during those 50 minutes. This exercise made me realize how often I was on my phone during the day and I decided to download an app onto my phone to see how many hours I spend on my phone to start cutting back the time, and starting to use it in a more productive way.

Another exercise that we did in class was the mindfulness day where we spent class time doing different mindfulness techniques which included: coloring, a breathing exercise,  a movement exercise, and mindful eating. I really enjoyed this class because it showed me different ways to be mindful other than just sitting and listening.

Something that was incorporated into these 5 weeks from the other weeks was the PERMA model. We had talked about relationships and the R in PERMA stands for that. We discussed the way a relationship with someone can help you flourish or do the opposite. I learned that the reason we form relationships is because we try to avoid loneliness, and feel a connection to people. We also did an exercise that required us to ask 3-5 people what they value, appreciate, and like about us.

All of these topics that we have discussed have made me reflect on my life and actually include them into my daily/weekly life.



Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2

Mindfulness can improve human functioning, cognition, and emotional control.  After reading about mindfulness and incorporating daily practices into my life, I have witnessed the benefits of becoming apart of the present moment.  For me, focusing on one task has always been difficult. Sitting down to study, for example, is hard because my mind easily wanders. By taking a few moments to be mindful before I have to study or go to work, has been helped me improve attention efficiency and has been a great anxiety reliever.  Since then, mindfulness has become apart of my daily routine. Mindfulness has also been shown to reduce reactivity to emotional stimuli. This is why I think mindfulness training programs would be great in schools, where social-emotional learning is lacking. Social-emotional learning leads to success in school and has the power to change one’s attitude towards themselves and others.  The image I used is a chart showing skills which are developed through social and emotional learning. I think this would be so beneficial for students who struggle with controlling their emotions and expressing themselves to others. Many students with antisocial or aggressive behavior have a less than perfect home life and could gain a lot from an emotionally balanced school life. I wasn’t surprised to read that anxiety, depression, and daytime dysfunctions were higher in the smartphone group in the study on physical and psychological health linked to technology use.  It was hard for me to admit that I too am addicted to my smartphone. I don’t necessarily need it, but still find myself reaching for it when I could be doing something more productive. I begun to put my phone across the room when I go to bed, and found that I get much better sleep without its distraction. I have also began to put my phone away when I out with friends or walk to class. It has helped me be more mindful and fully immerse myself into the present moment. The lectures and readings on meaningful relationships was helpful when evaluating my own relationships.  I found myself questioning, “Does this relationship contribute to my own personal growth? Does it promote or hinder thriving? Does this relationship nurture a desire to create or seize life opportunities?” After asking myself those questions, it was easy for me to distinguish which relationships were toxic. I am really glad to have close, supportive relationships that keep me in a motivational state. When thinking about my life, I can identify that my state of well-being was much better, both psychologically and physically when I had trusted relationships. Learning more about substance use disorders was personally interesting, because I have people in my life who struggle with substance use.  The combination of predisposing factors, adolescent development, and maintenance all contribute to the developmental process of addiction. Although I am not an impulsive person and do not have addiction issues, I want to learn more about becoming a recovery ally for those who are suffering.


Photo Credit: Google Images

Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2

It is hard to believe that we are halfway through the semester! Over the last few weeks, we have been introduced to topics such as: positive relationships, personality traits, usage of substances, impulsiveness, disconnection from electronics, and decision making. It is important to mention how all these topics correlate with each other. For instance, these concepts relate back to our overall well-being and mental health. In week 9, we learned about the importance of maintaining positive relationships in order to have a well rounded grasp of life in the sense of having enjoyable memories, high self-esteem, and overall being happy. On the other hand, it is important to be aware of negative relationships in order for one to remove themselves from that situation or even prevent that situation from occurring. Negative relationships are extremely detrimental to one’s well-being because one experiences more stress and feels lonely. I think substance abuse can play as a major factor that links people to negative relationships.For instance, an individual who is facing hardships or high levels of stress may make the decision to rely on alcohol or any other substance to help them escape from their problems. There are cases in which an individual is in a relationship with another individual, but both are heavily involved in the usage of substance abuse, and one individual may be threatened if he or she leaves the relationship, the other individual will harm themselves. This is an extreme situation, but it is important to be aware how all these concepts relate to each and how one has to make a decision that will affect the individual’s well-being. The content we learned from the beginning of the semester (week 1-5), introduced us to the basic concepts of mindfulness which has now allowed us to have a better understanding in regards to aspects that pertain to mindfulness. For instance, through the concepts we learned at the beginning of the semester we are now able to apply and have a better understanding in apply mindfulness into our lives as well as acknowledging the aspects that make up one overall well-being.

A large lesson that I have learned from the past ten weeks of class is that We as a society have many commitments and responsibilities, but it important to remember that we are not machines, therefore, we need to make our well-being a huge priority. I would like to share that this semester has definitely tested my ability to manage my course load. There have been various moments were I felt as though I was drowning in my workload, but after learning about personality traits and decision making, I came to the realization that I needed to make the conscious decision to step away from my assignments for a certain period and fit mindfulness activities into my schedule. I must admit, there are days where partaking in my own mindfulness activity has helped me significantly for the day, but there have been other days in which I felt the same afterwards. Also, there have been days where I completely skipped my mindfulness activity for the day. I would like to reach a point where I incorporate mindfulness into my daily and stay consistent with it; it would be ideal for me to incorporate mindfulness three times a day.  As I’m writing this blog post, I know for a fact that I need to take time away from my studies and focus on reducing my stress. Lastly, as huge change that I’ve made after week eight in which we learned about the importance of disconnecting from our electronic devices, I no longer use my phone before bed. This has been extremely helpful because I now sleep longer as opposed to wasting an hour browsing the web.

The image I selected relates to my post because it showcases the many aspects that we are constantly thinking about, but the person in the image is practicing mindfulness by meditating.


Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2

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During the first few weeks of class, we discussed different ways to help us be flourishing individuals. In the second few weeks of class, we discussed personality and relationship qualities. Our personality traits help us to make connection and build relationships with others. This also can help us maintain those connections throughout our lifetime.

I have learned that we need to use our personality traits and our connections and mindfulness in order to flourish. Mindfulness is a key skill because it helps to keep our minds calm. Mindfulness also has health benefits that can help us maintain our mental health in order to help us maintain our positive relationships.

Week 8 of class help me realize that I was spending too much time on my phone. After having to not use my phone during the 50 minute class period, I decided to keep that cycle going for all of my classes. I now turn off my notifications when I am going to bed, and I have also set my phone to let me know when I have reduced my weekly screen time.

Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2

During weeks 6-10 in this class we learned about; Social Emotional Learning, Mindfulness, Emotional Resilience, Positive Relationships, and Getting to know Yourself. These topics are all related to each other because they all have to do with getting to understand different parts of yourself in order to better the quality of your life and the lives of those around you.

While learning about social emotional learning in week 6, we became more familiar with skills that are helpful with being successful in school as well as day to day life. The skills we learned about included; self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making, relationship skills, and social awareness. These skills are important for all people to have because of the benefits that come from them. In class we watched a video of an example of children being taught these skills in a classroom setting. Watching this video really opened my eyes to how important teaching these skills are to the development of children. I believe that SEL skills should be implemented in schools across the board to help students reach their true potential in less stressful ways.

Learning about mindfulness in week 7 tied in nicely to the topic of social emotional learning because many of the skills focused on in SEL have to do with being more mindful in your interactions, decisions, and relationships. During this week we practiced mindfulness everyday and recorded it after each day. We have been doing mindfulness exercises during class for most of the semester but this week we were assigned to participate in at least one on our own everyday. Also in class one day we went around to different stations and practiced different kinds of mindful activities to see which one best fit our preferences. I found it really nice to experience so many different ways to be mindful. It is important for one to take time to be mindful because we tend to focus too much on the stressors in our lives and not enough on just being present and quiet for a few minutes daily.

Week 8 also fit right into the topic of mindfulness from week 7. This week was about emotional resilience and the difference our generation has because of the Digital age and our screen usage. The main part of this week’s classes was we were not allowed to have and technology out during the entire class period. This was important because even being in the presence of our screen whether it is active or not is a constant distraction from what is happening in real time around you.  At the end of the week we had to describe what it was like to not be able to be on any technology for an entire hour. It is important to take time away from technology because it increases the amount of stressors in a person’s life by more than double. Our generation and the ones younger than us have all the classic stressor’s our parents had growing up plus a entire other list full of things that are mostly in our control. It makes it more difficult for a person to be emotionally resilient when all of their stress and focus is on the technology that surrounds them. Being emotionally resilient is important because it helps a person cope with the stress of life and not completely shut down from it.

Week 9 and 10 went hand in hand for me. Week 9 was about positive relationships and what it takes to be in a healthy relationship. Week 10 was about getting to know yourself and about how your personality traits can affect your life in many different ways. In order to understand your needs and wants for a healthy relationship you need to be in touch with your own personality and know what you need to help your positive traits flourish and help control the other negative personality traits that can come out in stressful situations. We also learned about how our personality traits can be adjusted to make better outcomes for ourselves. We learned how to identify maladaptive traits that we can learn how to control with some of the other skills learned in previous weeks.

I believe that weeks 1-5 helped in breaking down what we have just learned because we learned a lot about how to translate scientific information into statements that are easily understood. We also learned about our genetics and how that can affect our happiness in life which had a lot to do with the getting to know you portion of the previous classes. Overall I found the first five weeks very helpful in being able to decipher what we have been learning in class from week to week.  I have definitely come to realize that a lot of our happiness is very much in our control but is also fleeting and there are healthy ways to relieve stress in times where happiness doesn’t seem to be present.

I chose this image because it reminded me of a lot of the things we discussed in class with social media and all of the outside stressors that we let in. Being mindful and present is very positive for people’s health.

Blog Post #2

For the past couple of weeks, we have discussed a wide range of topics related to personality traits and mental health. We have also taken lots of personal assessments to understand ourselves which I feel were very helpful and intriguing. Week 6 we talked about social and emotional learning and essentially we talked about how important life skills that are needed to get a job or to be a good team member are not necessarily taught in school which is an issue. And therefore there are SEL programs in place to foster these skills and data has shown them to work. I personally gained most of these skills from my parents because they were conscious about making sure that I was social and I knew the proper mannerisms needed to communicate with others. However, growing up I definitely met some kids who didn’t have those skills or did not know how to be a team member and I think a SEL program would have been beneficial for them. Something else it made me realize is that when I was going through grade school, kids did not have phones but now a lot of younger kids have access to phones and Ipads and such so the SEL program would be even more necessary for them!

Week 7 we focused on relationships. I really live by the Michealangelo phenomenon where if I feel that the people in my life are not helping me become a better person, I reevaluate their place in my life. I always try to surround myself with people who I feel are better than me in one way or another so that I can learn from them and grow.  Also, throughout college I have struggled a lot with figuring out the boundary with friendships. When I first started having poor mental health I began to use my friends as crutches, which is not healthy. After going to counseling I learned that yes, friends should be there to help and support you through tough times but it is not fair of me to depend on them for anything. As one of my friends once said to me, ” friends are here to support not to be an unpaid therapist”. I really think that college has helped me understand what I want in the relationships I have with people just because I have had so many of them, both good and bad. During this week our activity was to practice mindfulness and it was surprisingly one of the best activities I feel that we have done in SOH. I have really bad anxiety which makes me very jittery and nervous and I feel like taking a second to just be present and mindful has helped me out a lot.

Week 8 we focused on disconnecting. This was definitely the hardest week for me because we were not allowed to use phones or other electronics during class. I consider myself to be addicted to my phone so I struggled a lot. However, I realized that I need to do it more often because being addicted to my phone is really unhealthy and has impacted my attention span. I feel that I also really related to this weeks reading, about the connection between phones and depression, sleep quality and anxiety within college students. Essentially the study talks about how they compared different aspects, the ones mentioned in the title, between smart phone users and nonusers and there is a higher rate of anxiety, depression and low quality sleep for those who are smart phone users. I can definitely vouch for that because I feel that when I was going through hard times and I felt that I was alone, I would go onto social media and when I saw that my friends were hanging out and I was not invited and it would make me even more depressed. It also makes me compare myself to other people all the time. If I don’t have plans for a weekend and I see people going out doing things, I feel bad about myself, which is very unnecessary. If I hadn’t seen their posts, I wouldn’t have felt bad. It also has affected my sleep, and after this week I actually started putting a timer to when I have to put my phone away when I go to bed.

Week 9 was about personality traits! I think this week I learned a lot about myself and I understood why I do certain things, or how I cope. I have always been an extrovert however I never knew that, that is why I am somewhat impulsive, or it is why I enjoy “thrill-seeking” activities. The SURPs test was also really insightful because I have very extreme scores but I guess that makes sense because my emotions tend to be somewhat extreme, as in when I’m happy, I get really happy or when I am sad, I get really sad. There is rarely an in between. Also I really liked doing the activity where we asked people in our lives to give us compliments. I realized that one of the biggest things people see in me is how I am very inclusive, and thats something I stress a lot so I am glad that it shows.

Finally the last week we have talked about impulses. I think that the college environment is the most testing place for impulsivity. Drugs, alcohol, bad decisions are all so easy to access and there is so much peer pressure that its really easy to break. I personally did not realize how strong peer pressure is until freshman year because I originally came to college as someone who was not comfortable drinking but my friends managed to put a lot of peer pressure on me which led to me giving in. I think the peer pressure we learn about in school is very different from how peer pressure really is because when your friends pressure you into doing things, they do it in a way where you dont feel like it’s forced, and you feel like you don’t want to ruin the fun. It’s only till later when you realize what was going on.

Overall, this class has really helped me understand mental health much better. Especially as someone who has struggled with it greatly, its really insightful being able to understand why I act a certain way, or how my actions connect to my personality. It also has helped me decrease my screen time usage, and be more mindful, which in turn has helped me decrease my anxiety.

This image shows how much phones dictate our lives, even when we are hanging out with friends, we are always on our phone. This is something that this class has really made me realize and my goal for the upcoming weeks is to get out of this habit!

Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2


Since our last blog post, we have talked about social emotional learning, positive relationships through mindfulness, emotional resilience and the digital age, and substance abuse . These all tie together to say that we need to take care of ourselves first mentally and changing a few things in our lifestyle can be more beneficial to our health mentally and physically. We have done a few interesting activities in class these past weeks that I personally feel have helped me. The first one was practicing mindfulness everyday for a week. I noticed a difference in myself from the before and after affect of doing this everyday for five days. I felt more relaxed and was able to concentrate a lot better than before. To this day,I have continued to do this. I have a hard time falling asleep – I always have – so I mainly practiced this right before bed. I have noticed that I am to fall asleep a lot easier now and I don’t feel so anxious about not being able to sleep through the night. Another activity that we did was not using our phones or laptops during class. I am not going to lie, it was very hard to do because I am so used to checking my phone or checking my email or Blackboard but as time when on it got easier and even after class I wasn’t even worried about checking my phone right away. I would go another half an hour to forty minutes without checking any of my screens. I found the presentation on substance abuse interesting because I have seen some of my close friends go through this. A lot of the substance abuse I have view stems from that persons’ personal life so they turn to smoking marijuana or drinking constantly. It’s interesting how it cost so much over time to do these things but in the moment money is the last thing on their mind when they are trying to forget about their problems for a while.

Now that we are half way through the semester, I feel like I have learned a lot of valuable skills that I can tie into my life. I have noticed a difference on my day to day schedule of how mindful I have become. Before this class, I was an anxious person and I had a hard time concentrating. Now I practice a few of the skills that we have learned and they have made my life a lot more relaxing and my focus is much more better. The picture I have chosen expresses the calm I now feel in my life.

for picture :

Blog post #2 – Mariam Tareq

Blog post #2 – Mariam Tareq

In the past few weeks of class we have discussed social emotional learning, mindfulness, emotional resilience in the digital age, positive relationships, and substance use risk. All of these connect back to each other in a way because they all focus on one main thing, which is our well being. In the week of our social emotional learning we learned about being more self aware and recognizing things, self – management, being responsible when it comes to the decision making process in our lives and what will eventually better us and our life, and relationship skills. Mindfulness has been a main and recurring topic throughout this semester but we discussed it more and really focused on integrating practicing mindfulness in meditation outside of class. Our assignment was to practice mindfulness everyday for a week and then record how we felt before and after the practice. This experience really opened up my eyes to the importance of taking a few minutes out of each day to really center yourself and reconnect with the present moment. Screens and social media and the digital age was another eye opening topic in these past few weeks. During the week of class that we were challenged to put away our phones for the full 50 minute class period and not check it at all was really interesting. After each class period the challenge became easier and easier. At first, the whole time all i could think about was my phone and what messages, or posts i was missing and it sort of made me feel anxious not having it but as we got later into the week I slowly started looking forward to it because it was a nice break from everything. It made me want to continue this into my everyday life and try and take an hour or so and really disconnect from my phone and any other screen time and really focus on what is around me. The next topic we discussed are positive relationships. This topic is such an important topic to discuss especially at the ages of most of us in class. Relationships are important in every part of our lives, friends, family, companions, teachers, etc. We discussed the different major factors that go into a relationship and what can make it a positive and healthy one in your life and what key things to look for when it can be an unhealthy and toxic one. This is so important because I feel that at times we has people tend to excuse different things in our relationships to convince ourselves that everything is fine because we want to make our relationships work. Personality traits was another topic we discussed. In this we discussed the five factor model which is made up of some major personality traits. This week was later connected to substance abuse. At times substance abuse can be the result of all of the topics we discussed and can be how people cope and what they turn to as an outlet or an impulsive thing.

The one thing I have really learned so far and my biggest take away has been mindfulness. I have began trying to really incorporate it into my everyday life and prioritize it because it is so important to center yourself and bring yourself back to the present moment rather than constantly worrying and stressing about the past and future things that we are unable to control in the present moment.

How to Escape Being a Victim of Time & Truly Live in the Present Moment


What I’ve Learned & How I’ve Practiced

What I’ve Learned & How I’ve Practiced

Throughout the past few weeks in the class I have learned a lot that I found could be extremely applicable and ultimately helpful in my everyday life. I’ve felt that way since the beginning of this class, really, and that’s my favorite thing about it. To me the first few weeks of class really helped to inform me of how to receive, digest, and utilize the information learned between weeks 6-10.

I felt introduced and a bit more intimate in my knowledge of how thoughts and emotions influence my actions. I think that I’ve at least gotten to know myself a bit better through the start of this class, learning my strengths and weaknesses in the beginning, for example, I think allowed me to delve deeper when it came to the subsequent weeks’ topics such as mindfulness, social awareness in technology and relationships, emotional learning, and meditation.

One particularly interesting weekly reading on the effects of smartphone usage on anxiety, depression, sleep issues etc. was an interesting one that yielded interesting results… showing a positive correlation between overuse of one’s smartphone and dealing with those unfortunate disorders. (Demirci et al., 2015). I’m not one to use my phone during class to browse social media but it was an interesting exercise to try not to look at my phone at all during class the week we had that assignment.

I have found that I have been taking what I’ve learned in class home with me, and some of my habits have changed since the class began. I especially want to touch on mindfulness and meditation, since that’s what I’ve found to be the most impactful topic for me in my everyday life. The past few years have been stressful for me as some issues in life that I have experienced left a lot of things up in the air when it came to my future. Those stresses would really get to me sometimes, especially when I would be frustrated with an assignment or my work. Since beginning to practice mindfulness and since meditating, I have cut down the amount of cigarettes I smoke a day by nearly half in the first few weeks. I am fortunate that I am also in a class called “The Science of Recovery” where we learn similar coping skills. I overall feel that these classes have been therapeutic for me, because upon reflecting on it I have realized that the things I’ve learned have allowed me to do less of a bad habit such as my smoking, and that that’s a really good thing.

Mid-October, this month, the topic in class was social and emotional learning. This topic included learning about how the combination of both self and social awareness affects and is affected by our environment, which may include our family, community, school, work etc. I learned about our social and emotional responsibilities and how self-awareness is vitally important for social and emotional interaction. I have always thought of myself as a self-aware person. I’ve thought of myself as someone who could recognize and identify emotions and my strengths. I have also always thought I had good social awareness. It was interesting to dive into how those things relate to self-management, something that I can recognize I haven’t had the best hold over, myself. I found myself saying “That’s me, I set goals”, but also “I rarely every follow through with them”. It was a bit of a realization after that. I realized that I have a low follow-through track record with my goals, and that I really did lack self discipline and stress-control, (two aspects of efficient self management); but I am proud to say I have gotten better at that. My meditation sessions have helped immensely with my stress and anxiety, but I am most proud of the fact that I am doing moderately well in my classes this semester so far. This is a far cry from where I have been in the past 2-3 years, withdrawing if I fell behind, or giving up and taking a low grade. I think that having my schoolwork and job work in order decreases my daily stress and anxiety as well. Being proficient in what I need to get done, utilizing what I have learned in this class has allowed me to feel more at ease and at peace in my daily life… and as I said, mindfulness and meditation have caused me to cut down on smoking, so its got to be a good thing!

This picture represents, quite literally, my position between being a smoker, and someone who uses the power of their mind and the power of focus and relaxation to reduce their stresses.


Blog post 2

Blog post 2

During the first few weeks of class we learned that happiness is not a hierarchy and that flourishing of self and mental illness are not mutually exclusive. We learned that through genetics, some people are more susceptible to mental disorders than others but through mindful living/practices it is possible to live a high-quality life.

For this section of class, we focused on social emotional learning. This explains the different ways we interact with others and how they affect us as individuals. One subcategory of this subject was the use of smart phones and social media. During class we placed ours phones in our backpacks (away from sight) until the class was over. We were also encouraged to incorporate this into daily lives. According to Kadir Demirci’s research on how smartphones affects college students, smartphone usage in moderation can be beneficial. Although, excessive usage can onset of mental disorders or heightened symptoms. It also decreases quality of sleep but decreasing the duration of REM sleep.

We also learned about relationships and how the company we keep and be beneficial to detrimental to self-growth. From our lecture we learned that meaningful relation are necessary not only because as humans we are social creatures and make relationships to avoid loneliness but also because relationships provide us with coping mechanisms (confiding in friends and family) and opportunities to thrive even in good times. We did an activity where we asked a couple of our friends to tell us what qualities they like about us and how we felt about their responses. When I asked my friends, I was only focused on completing the assignment, but once I got the responses I noticed how close I was to each person based on their responses. I felt a sense of warmth and closeness based on how much thought and effort went into each person’s response and was also shocked at what qualities were consistent or varied from friend to friend.

From all the lectures and classes, we had, one class that resonated with me the most was when explored various activities that incorporates mindfulness. This included mindful eating, coloring and meditation/yoga. Mindfulness is not limited to meditation. It is an awareness of each moment regardless of what you’re doing, even EATING

maintaining good relationships

maintaining good relationships

Tyler Scherer

In the recent weeks, we have looked at personal relationships and personality traits. These two go hand in hand in regards to relationships. It is important to know yourself and how you can react to relationship stress and how to keep a happy relationship going. The five-factor model can be a good way to gauge your personality and the strengths or weaknesses associate with those traits. The traits are broken down into external and internal problems which can help and individuals know how they may react in certain situations and how to calm themselves down or remove themselves from the problem. This can be a very powerful tool when it comes to relationships because argument often can get heated and those involved can lose control. Using mindfulness can help a person see a problem through someone else’s eyes as well as keep you calm in stressful situations.


These 5 personal traits have also been correlated with addiction and drug use. This combined with genetic factors can lead to serious drug dependency issues. Knowing these factors and traits ahead of time can drastically reduce addiction and maintain personal health. To me, everything we have talked about in this last month has related strongly to relationships and knowing oneself. Knowing what kind of person you are and your vices can really make an impact in relationships and how you communicate with your partner or family. I have tried to use these personal traits and their known associated weaknesses to overcome my introversion. It is still a constant problem for me and people close to me as I am often retracted from social events. I hope that knowing my weaknesses and possible ways to overcome them might help me enjoy social life more and get me out of my comfort zone.

Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2

While the first five weeks of class served as a sort of introduction to the course and making sure we understood what was going on, the past five weeks have been much more interesting. We have started to really get into the science of being happy. While I noticed very few differences in the weekly topics, I saw a lot of similarities. Each week’s content was like a puzzle piece, and every week we learned more and more about what it takes to be happy. Just because you have good relationship skills, and self management, and social awareness, and all the other SEL skills doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to be happy in life. You might be stuck in a bad relationship, one where you are being controlled by your partner, where the bad side of the Michelangelo Phenomenon is coming out. It doesn’t matter whether or not you have the good team work and communication skills that we spoke of in SEL, if you are stuck in a bad relationship, it is going to stay bad. So lets say you have a great relationship with your partner and you are a master of all the SEL skills, you still might not be happy. Why? Because you might be letting other outside influences get to you. Like the boy that we talked about in Week 8 lecture, you might just be sitting on Instagram one day and see people you know having a way better life than you and you will start to get jealous and envious. Or you might be on your phone until 3am and get no sleep cause your mind is bouncing off the walls. Or maybe you are the person in that Instagram photo, would you be happy? Not necessarily, you may be having fun and living a life of excess but that doesn’t guarantee happiness. You may be struggling with an alcohol addiction trying to combat demons from your past, you may be so impulsive that you say yes to every dare and can’t say no to any drug. Instead of trying a better way to deal with the problem you end up resorting to self medication with drugs and alcohol. The point of that overly long narrative, is that no one thing will make you actually happy, you may have a fleeting sensation for a moment, but only one of those things will make you happy. You have to put all the puzzle pieces together and combine SEL skills and making sure you have a positive relationship, and even acknowledging yourself and knowing what your major tempters might be. As it was said in Good et al.’s article, doing these things and practicing mindfulness in the workplace helps people to be better workers and also showed actual, tangible results. People studying for an MBA had higher GPA’s if they practiced mindfulness. All of these things together stand a good chance of making you happy. Another thing that might add to your chances of being truly happy and something that I talked about in my last blog post is letting go of the past and just letting bygones be bygones and moving on. Like the creepy meditation recording says: “acknowledge those thoughts but let them pass”. By not letting the chains of what happened or what could have been hold us down, we become free of them and free to move on in pursuing happiness. Fittingly, that is the major lesson I have learned over these ten weeks. Just let go. Whether it be someone cutting you off on the interstate or your advisor seemingly trying to avoid you, its not gonna do you any good to focus on it. Just let it go. Once again, even more fittingly, this is the change I have tried to implement in my own life. Every day in class, for most if not all of the semester so far, we have done meditation at the beginning of class. I found it cleared my head so much and helped me to let go of my worries that now I do it every night before bed and try to do it every morning when I wake up. It helps me to approach the next day with a clear, unburdened mind. The image I selected relates to this because its literally just what I said, a person meditating at the beginning of their day. That person is just relaxing on a beach (I am assuming that that’s their happy place) and letting go, maybe they even have their own creepy meditation recording. But even if they don’t, they are still putting into practice what the overall theme of the class is, being mindful about yourself and what’s around you and just being happy in life.

Dunn, J. (2017, December 6). Everything you need to know about Meditation. Retrieved October 28, 2018, from

Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2

In weeks six through ten we talked about social emotional learning, mindfulness, emotional resilience in the digital age, positive relationships, and substance use risk. The topics covered in weeks six through ten focused on how we can achieve happiness or a better life by either making small changes or additions in our daily activities. Some topics such as mindfulness and substance use risk focused more on the individual and taking time out to learn more about yourself and reflect. Other topics such as social emotional learning and positive relationships focused more on the individual and their relationships with other people. All of the topics gave us examples and supplemental resources on how we can achieve a better life.

In weeks one through five, I felt like we learned more about different concepts and it’s relationship to happiness, such as how genetics and environment influence behavior or positive psychology. The topics these last few weeks showed us activities we could apply what we learned earlier in life. For example, the PERMA model was something we learned in the positive psychology lecture. The R in PERMA stands for relationships and it talks about how being in relationships where you feel valued will have a positive effect on your well-being. In the positive relationship relationship lecture we were able to apply this by identifying what makes a good or bad relationship and the characteristics needed to form a good relationship.

The classes these past ten weeks helped me shaped my perspective on how to achieve happiness. In one of the classes from weeks one through five, Dr. Walsh told us that achieving happiness was not just reading motivational quotes or reading books about how to achieve a better life. But it was from different activities based on research on a wide range of topics. Additionally, these classes helped me understand that to lead a more fulfilling life starts first by knowing you and then making small changes or additions that will help you reach it. Happiness is not achieved one way and everyone has to do what works for them or else they won’t be successful.

From what I learned in weeks six through ten, I have made some changes to my habits. For example, I decided to take a moment to be mindful every Tuesday and Thursday. After my last workout, I walk one lap around campus and while I am walking I try to focus on what is happening now instead of work that I need to do in the future. During the walk I also think about things I am thankful for. This helps me to relax and maintain a positive mindset for the rest of the day. I also apply mindfulness during my workouts. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we run as a team for either 30 – 70 minutes. Because I preferred listening to music during those workouts, I would run with my phone or iPod. For the past few weeks I I decided not to run with music and  instead focus on my present environment. While my goal was to be more mindful, I surprisingly ended up working on developing positive relationships. Running without earphones allowed me to engage with my teammates and as a result I ended up enjoying the runs. Now, I have a stronger relationship with my teammates and I don’t run with music anymore. 

While I have made some changes in my activities, I plan to make another: I am going to put my phone away for at least an hour aday. The lecture and activities for emotional resilience during the digital age made me realize how much I rely on my phone and that putting it away for a small period may help me become more productive and happier. This change is going to be a little more difficult but I plan to start small and put my phone away for ten to fifteen minutes and then increase until I reach an hour. If I see positive results from this like I plan to, I will try to put my phone up for longer than an hour.

Because of the lectures and activities, I was able to make the necessary changes to lead a more fulfilling life. However, my changes will not stop once the semester is over and I am done with the class. Next semester and even the next year may bring a new set of challenges where I will have to come up with ways to maintain a fulfilling life. This is why I picked the picture above. The road to happiness and a fulfilling life is a long process and each step, whether it is in academics or personal will require you to continue practicing mindfulness.  


Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2



The past few weeks of this class have been very interesting, and have really made me reflect on my daily life. We talked about social emotional learning, which has to do self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. You can learn these skills in schools, classrooms, at home, with your family, and in communities around you. We also talked about meditation and mindfulness practices. That week our assignment was to use a source given to practice a mindfulness exercise everyday and record our before and after thoughts and feelings. It was a very powerful experience. We also went screenless in class for a week, and talked about what the effects of screens can have on society and on people. We then into went to positive relationships, and talked about what makes a positive relationship with friends, family, and companions. This is where we talked about the Michelangelo Phenomenon, which shows that our partners help guide us towards or away from our ideal selves. Then we learned about different types of personality traits, and we talked about the five factor model. Lastly, we talked about how those personality traits link to your mind and substance use/abuse. We also talked about how it connects to impulsivity. All of these topics relate because they are talking about one’s well being. Topics like social emotional learning, mindfulness, screen time, positive relationships, and even personality traits, show how the brain, friends, family, companions, school, and society can impact what makes you the best you. If one of these things has a negative outcome, your life will not be the flourishing self it can be. These topics also relate to the rest of the content learned in the first few weeks because we are talking about how the mind affects our happiness in certain ways, and what things are making us feel a certain way in a sense. I feel like what we talked about in the first few weeks has also helped how I take in new knowledge and information.

I have truly learned a lot about myself. After class I would go home and just sit and think, about everything going on and what things actually make me happy. Some of the things we talked about, like the effects of screen time, I already knew, but never really thought about it and how it affects me. I think this class has really just opened me up, and I feel as if I see myself differently in a good way. I have also felt so worthless and dumb, but this class has helped me understand myself and my surroundings. I have been able to stop some old habits, and I have laid my foot down. Because of that, I can honestly say I feel happier.

One thing that really helped was the meditation and mindfulness practices. After that week where we did it everyday, and then recorded how we felt. I have done it every single day since. It is now apart of my nightly routine, and I feel as if I have been getting the best sleep I think I have ever had. I am a very high stress person, and night rolls around I feel like I haven’t done all of the things I wanted to do. When I practice mindfulness right before I go to bed, I feel all of the stress lifted off my shoulders.  The picture I chose also represents this. I wanted to do a picture for mindfulness because that has been the most helpful tool for me, and it is something I hope to continue and use to the best of my ability.

Image source:

Blog post #2

Blog post #2

In the past five weeks, we have learned about social emotional learning, mindfulness, emotional resilience in the digital age, positive relationships, getting to know yourself.On first glance, there may seem to be no connection between social emotional learning and mindfulness, as one is learning how to properly comunicate with the people around you and the other is a practice of being in the present moment, but there definitely is a way to connect both of these topics to one another.

There is a need for the teaching of social emotional learning on college campuses because a lot of us lack those skills, although they are equally as important as any other instruction. Being able to accurately express your emotions is essential to your connections with people. Social and Emotional learning can also help foster positive relationships, another topic of discussion. Both of these topics relate to our discussion on emotional resilience in the digital age, as we need to be sure to strengthen our real-life positive relationships in person using social and emotional learning.  A way to strengthen these skills is getting to know yourself and your likelihood of being impulsive, sensitive to anxiety, negative thinking, and sensation-seeking, as we discussed this past week in class.  A way to strengthen these skills further (and from within, using what you know about yourself) would be to practice mindfulness, being in the here and now and more aware of your emotions.

In the first few weeks of class, we learned the basic topics  (genetic, anxiety and depression, positive psychology, etc) that would later help us relate and understand later topics. For example, in class on Week 8 (as well as the reading on the study conducted examining the connection between depression, anxiety, sleep quality, and smartphone overuse), we learned about how smartphone overuse can affect our wellbeing and mental health. If we had not learned about anxiety and depression, how that relates to genetics and the environment a person is in, and positive psychology methods prior to this discussion, we would not be able to make connections or fully understand the content.

Since the beginning of the class, I’ve learned more about myself and my habits than I’d learned from a lifetime of personailty tests. I have also always struggled with anxiety and depression, so it has been unbelievably helpful to learn more about these disorders and how to help myself. It has given me a lot of hope for the future of my mental health. The tests and surveys, combined with the instruction and elaboration in class, have made me more self-aware than I’ve ever been.

I plan to use my self awareness to better myself through recognising my bad habits and working on replacing them with more healthy and positive ones. I also took a break from technology, spending more time with the people I love in person–inspired by the emotional resilience in the digital age discussion–and have spent more time in nature. This has actually also inspired my final article in journalism in which I am writing about my experience away from technology and in nature for a full 24-hours–something I’ve never done before. I was able to get a lot of fresh air, as well as vitamin D (which helps improve moods/alleviate depression). The trip was great for my soul and applied many of the things I’ve learned in class.

A picture of the Shenandoah Mounatins from my trip away from civalization and technology with a close friend

In a way, this technology break was also a practice in mindfullness. I try to spend a few minutes each day reflecting (whether through journaling or just thinking about my actions), which is my hurried verision of mindfulness on a daily-basis. I have also always enjoyed meaningful relationships with people, but through the class, I’ve learned that there is much more I could do to ensure that I am truly investing in positive relationships and doing my part to keep them that way.  I have definitely been guilty of acting selfishly when it comes to my relationships when I could have taken an entirely different approach. Recognizing where I have failed (when I didn’t necessarily realize I had to begin with) has been very important and useful to helping me be a better version of myself in the future.


Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2

In week 6 we all took a survey called the, Social Emotional Learning Scale (SEL), which tests how a person can manage their emotions. The lectures showed studies done on children and how they are raised and what situations affected their ability to control their emotions. We also started to talk about Mindfulness.

In week 7 we really focused on Mindfulness, which was my favorite topic so far. I have been reading a book outside of class called, ‘The Mindful Athlete’, by George Mumford who was the sports physiologist for those iconic 90’s Bulls teams. The timing worked out perfectly and that week really connected for me. One of my favorite bits of my book is when he is talking about how most athletes before a game during the national anthem are thinking about the game, they are nervous, they are going over strategy in their head and many other things. He says the Mindful athlete has a clear head, they notice the flag, they take in the weather, they are totally present. I find the more I have applied mindfulness to my life the more happy and productive I have become. Generally when I anticipate the future in my athletics I imagine the worst possible outcome. However when I can remain mindful, my performance improves and I take on each task as it comes. This lets my athleticism take over and I play more free. I have also applied mindfulness outside the diamond into my everyday life. I am better about being off my phone when I walk around campus, I have noticed details around campus that I have never seen before just by staying off my technology.

Week 7 and 8 tied right into each other very nicely because week 8 focused on research done about the negative effects on mental health associated with our smart phones. We are so distracted by our phones we are the opposite of mindful. We are always living in someone else’s life absorbing their experiences while not enjoying our own. The studies done about the negative effects of smartphones especially on college campuses were alarming. Just like week 7, week 8 applied directly to my own life. I have really been trying to illuminate my smartphone usage and one step I have taken is taking the social media apps off my phone. This way the only way I can access that content is through my laptop. While I can still access social media it is much harder to reach and it keeps it off my mind. I find it to be so rewarding to not engaged with social media so much. In very recent past I would find myself on social media for hours a day and gained nothing productive from it and it ultimately made me feel bad about myself for wasting so much time. In a research article sent to us for class reading we learned that excess smartphone usage affected sleep negatively, gave people depression, and anxiety.

In week 9 we learned how to thrive in all types of relationships. We focused mostly on romantic partner relationships. A director from the Wellness center at VCU spoke to use all week, which is a great person to talk to us because the Well has councilors who help students with this. They help students with partner abuse whether that is physical or emotional and offer help and solutions to take care of themselves. We learned how people tend to base their relationships of relationships we see in the media, which means we often complicate the simple.

In week 10 we have just been learning about addiction and substance use disorder. We have covered the science behind why we feel tat pleasure and why it can be easy for people to become addicted. Drugs can over stimulate our, “reward circuit”, in our brain so it can make use feel great in the minute. The drug that we get is called dopamine and the levels are so high its almost impossible to replicate that without drugs.

What we have learned in prior weeks in this course has helped me understand the new content we are learning more effectively. In week 2, we did assignment with a family tree and learned how not just physical but also neurological traits get passed down from generation to generation. In week 10, we learned a lot about addiction and substance abuse, and those problems can be more or less probable for everyone based on the way they are wired. We are born with a bunch of genes that will either make us more or less likely to become addicted to a substance.

Something I can really appreciate about this course is how applicable it is to my life especially as a busy college student. I mentioned above the book I am reading that has translated with me because it’s a book on mindfulness with athletes and then we did a week on mindfulness. I also frequently listen to podcast that generally deal with self-improvement. I am fascinated with successful people in life and how they got to be where they are. I listen to Ben Bergeron podcast, Jocko Podcast, and the Joe Rogan Experience. They all bring guests on frequently or infrequently but something that is constant with their guests and themselves is the correlation between their success and their morning routine/meditation. Most of these people routinely meditate just like something we would do before class. I have taken on the challenge over the last four weeks to wake up at 7am everyday and practice consistent meditation and prayer. While I have not been perfect in this pursuit I have experienced so many benefits. Just the discipline in general has made a huge difference and has carried over into so many areas in my life from my relationships, to my baseball, and my studies.


Andrew Schatz

Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2

In the first few weeks of class we were given an overview, a sample of the lessons to come. We learned the basic principles of well-being through models such as the PERMA model. Now, we are beginning to dissect the individual aspects of such representations to truly understand each individual part in an attempt to incorporate it into our daily lives.
We learned the common aspects noticed in happy people: positive emotions, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. These themes appear in some way almost every class. We looked deeper into engagement by being more mindful and putting electronics away, we analyzed our relationships by surveying them to find out how they view us, and we dappled with positive emotions in continuing to use positive psychology. Specifically, the ingredient I found the most key to the cake that is happiness was relationships. In one of our weekly readings, written by Brooke C. Feeney and Nancy L. Collins, it became apparent to me how important these bonds really are; they explain how there is a direct bond between the two in all stages of life.
One of the main reasons for this class, I believe, is for us students to really incorporate what we learn into our daily lives to help better them. I am always open to suggestions and really intend on using what I’ve learned. I aim to focus more on my engagement and mindfulness by putting my phone away while in the process of doing homework and overall just decreasing my

time on social media. It was shown in another weekly reading, ‘Relationship of smartphone use severity with sleep quality, depression, and anxiety in university students’, that this should improve many facets of my life. Also, I intend to really nurture my relationships, as this is something I struggle with, to make sure I have a strong support system and simply the knowledge that I am loved.                                                  To sum it all up, the themes of this class seem to carry across the weeks on how to promote well-being and how to recognize risk factors. We’ve continued to fill out personality surveys that tailor to our specific strengths and weaknesses in an attempt to improve our overall quality of life. I still intend on using these and other things I’ve learned in class to my advantage and am positive my dedication will lead to promising results in my mood.

Quick recap of the first 5 weeks

Quick recap of the first 5 weeks

Based on what I’ve learned from the material from the first 5 weeks of the Science of Happiness course, there are many factors to consider when it comes to mental health, our behaviors, and our attitudes towards life, others, and ourselves. I always think of Dr. Walsh’s favorite pie chart since a lot of it has to do with genetics and our environment. However, there is still that percentage where it is completely up to us. So even if we are affected by something or someone in a negative way and it feels like it’s completely out of our control, we still have the ability to take action and overcome it.

It wasn’t until I took this class that I learned about Keye’s model of complete mental health/flourishing, positive psychology, and the 24 strengths. After talking about Keye’s model and positive psychology, it made sense to me how despite an individual who has a mental illness is still able to live happily and do not allow it to consume themselves. By learning and utilizing coping mechanisms, establishing and maintaining meaningful and healthy relationships, and immersing themselves in activities that help them feel connected to their community and/or is something of interest, anyone can overcome the negative emotions/hardships that come their way. 

I feel as though all of the topics that have been covered in class within the first 5 weeks go hand-in-hand since genetics plays a huge role in both our mental health and our behaviors as well as our environment and ourselves. The absence of mental illness does not necessarily mean that one is flourishing, according to Keye’s model, just as how having a mental illness does not mean that one is languishing. It is really up to our own actions and decisions as well as the cards that we’ve been dealt with in order to either be languishing or flourishing. Positive psychology teaches us how to achieve the flourishing state, especially by defining what virtues and strengths that are the most prevalent to us and learning how to utilize and/or improve them. If we become aware of our dominant strengths and the ones we need to work on, we can lead more fulfilling and happier lives. 

The activities that resonated with me were the family tree, automatic thoughts, and VIA strengths survey exercises. The family tree made me realize how different yet alike my family and I could be, especially since all of my siblings are half-siblings! I never really thought about it until we had to complete that assignment, and it made me feel silly for not realizing it sooner. It was also really fun for me to talk to my mom about it and made me feel closer to her and my other relatives.  The automatic thoughts assignment reassured me about how resilient I am since I don’t usually let negative emotions get the best of me. I’ll allow myself to feel whatever it is that I do at that point in time but I don’t usually stay hung up on it more than I should, which is something I know a lot of people struggle with. So it made me feel like I’ve grown as a person since I’ve had my share of hardships just like everyone else and I have not let them get in the way of moving forward.

I think out of the three exercises, the VIA strengths survey was my favorite of them all! I enjoy taking tests that help me learn more about myself and I felt like my results were very accurate. I also appreciated how Dr. Walsh shared with us 304 ways for us to improve the strengths at the bottom of our list, which is something I will try to do. It was nice to see how we compared to everyone else in our class when we had our Friday discussion about our strengths and talk to people with either the same top strength or one that was different from our own. I will definitely take the test again in a year to see if I’ve changed!

Overall, this class was not what was I was expecting it to be. I look forward to going to lecture each day (even though I’m late sometimes. Sorry!!), especially the beginning of class when we can breathe a little by practicing mindfulness. It’s also nice how we have different guest lecturers who touch on the various topics for the class and getting to interact with everyone each Friday. I also feel as though the weekly assignments are relevant to what we talk about! I am looking forward to what is to come later on.


I commented on hsummer’s and ajohnson65’s blog posts.

Blog Post #1

Keyes Model of Complete Mental Health and Flourishing takes an interesting perspective on mental health. It states that mental health is not dualistic, it is a “continuum of both the absence of mental illness and flourishing.” Flourishing, by definition, is developing successfully; thriving. Keyes looks at it in a similar way. He says flourishing in a mental health aspect is how we feel about our lives and how we are functioning in our lives. In my life, I have come to realize that my mental state and flourishing can improve drastically depending where I am. After my freshman year at VCU, I began to realize how much more I flourish at home rather than at school. There are a lot of things to consider why I may feel this way. When I am home from college I tend to be free of school responsibilities, with my family and my dog, and having some sort of celebration. I also adore the place I grew up and it’s beautiful scenery and natural surroundings can soothe me in an instant. As soon as I hop off I-64 my stress and fears completely melt away. I grew up in a small town with a very close support system so being home makes me feel comforted. When I am at school I have a tendency to be stressed out and in a mental state that causes me to overthink. The business of the city makes me feel the need to always be on the go, I feel rushed. My freshman year, I also struggled with my homelife, boyfriend, and roommates. The adjustment for college was rough for me and I had to get through it. It wasn’t the best time and I spent most nights overthinking whether the littlest things made my roommates not like me or wondering why my boyfriend with a full-time job and a full-time student schedule didn’t “want” to hang out with me, even though we were both just too busy. Although I love my choice in school and being a small town girl enjoy the city, I do have a better mental state and flourish more at home.

My favorite topic during class was the genetic influences on our behavior. I found it thrilling to draw my family tree and deeply consider why I am who I am. Twenty to forty percent of our depression, anxiety, and personality souly come from genetics. While I have never been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, my grandmother (my father’s mother) and my sister have both. I do have some symptoms of anxiety such as, the tendency to overthink and small minor panic attacks. I think the reason I don’t have diagnosable anxiety or depression is because my personality can balance it out. I have a lot of my moms bubbly, funny, and positive attitude. Even when something is bothering me I can’t help but to crack jokes and be bubbly around the people who having nothing to do with the issue. I also get my compassion and caring for others from my mother. She majored in Physical Education and received her masters in teaching from the University of Virginia. She has always had a joy for working with children and every time I have seen her interact with kids I can’t help but smile. She later went on to work for Region Ten for adults with disabilities. I am currently majoring in Early Education and I began working at a summer camp this past summer for kids with learning disabilities. Alcohol and drug dependence has a rate of forty to seventy percent heritability. This was also intriguing to me because I honestly thought this rate would be higher. My dad has struggled with addiction in the past, thus being the reasons I will never put myself in a situation where I tempted by drugs. Since I am so aware of this issue running in my genes I take extreme precaution when it comes to drugs and alcohol. I have made the mistake of trying nicotine vapes and found myself getting addicted to it at an extremely fast rate. I realized this dependability may be because of my genetics and decided to stop because it puts me even more at risk. Lastly, we learned that seventy to eighty percent of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder can be passed down to me. My father and his father have a history of bipolar disorder and bipolar depression. I don’t notice too much of this mental illness other than my tendency to be over sensitive and over emotional. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m very open about my emotions and I frequently cry over teeny tiny things in my life whether they’re good or bad.

“When you can’t find the light, That got you through the cloudy days, When the stars ain’t shinin’ bright, You feel like you’ve lost you’re way, When the candlelight of home, Burns so very far away, Well, you got to let your soul shine.”I can vividly remember as a child my mom would sing this Allman Brothers when it came on the radio in the car. She always told me that no matter what happens in life, if I keep a positive attitude and “let my soulshine” I’d get through it. This was an influence of positive psychology that I grew up with and carry with me to this day. Since happiness is based on power of positive thinking, it can truly change someone’s mental state, as we learned in class, “if you want to be happy, be.” I look at it kind of like a “fake til’ you make it” strategy. Which can actually help me personally in life.

Being positive is part of my top five strengths in life. My number one strength was appreciation of beauty and kindness. This means in my everyday life, I take the time to enjoy the little beauties around me. From the open fields in and bright night stars in my hometown, to the street art of Richmond, these little moments give me a positive outlook no matter what I’m going through. Another one of my strengths is gratitude, which goes hand in hand with the appreciation of beauty because I am grateful for the little things in life. My third strength is my humor. I tend to laugh my way out of sticky situations or pain. These three strengths are all grouped into transcendence category.


Blog Post 1

Blog Post 1


                 Image result for happiness

The first five weeks of the Science of Happiness class have been very informational and interesting. The content we discuss and learn are all things I knew existed, but now I have an understanding of what they are and how they relate. The way people feel and how there minds work all connects in a way, and that’s what we talk about in class. It’s not directly said, but looking into the information we are taught, that’s what I’ve gotten out of it.

Starting with how the way people act, there physical traits, personality, and even on a mental level are almost all connected by genetics or the environment people are in. That was an interesting lesson because we talked about how much certain traits are influenced by genetics, and some were kind of shocking. The ones that surprised me most were addiction, anxiety, and depression. I assumed they related differently than they actually did. The Keye’s model of complete mental health/flourishing related to genetics because the status of mental health and illness can be affected by genetics. It also can be influenced by the environment that someone is in. Talking about depression, anxiety, and mood states was a really interesting topic. Anxiety is something almost everyone on my mom’s side of my family has and most of us are being treated for it with medicines. I focused on that when I was doing my family tree and it really got me thinking. Then when we talked about what the brain goes through in those different states it made me understand the concept and appreciate what this class is. I never really thought about how serious that can be, and sometimes I would feel sad and just say I’m so depressed. Now I know that I am NOT depressed, it is so much more than just a feeling. It’s something that people seriously deal with, and I feel like now I have an understanding and won’t use such terms lightly. The introduction to positive psychology was one of my favorite things we talked about. It really made me reflect on my life and how I am living it. The theory and concept of PERMA, positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments, is a total game changer. To actually sit and think about how these words and their meanings fall into my life and shape who I am is crazy. It is really helpful to be exposed to things like this. The test we took to find our top strengths was awesome. My top strength was humor… which makes total sense, but being able to see it and think about how that is really made a difference. I definitely want to keep taking the test throughout the years to see how I’ve grown and changed.

All of these concepts we have talked about are interesting and helpful. They are ways to understand how your mind works, and how other things can shape how you feel. The class truly is a study on how to be the happiest person you can be. I am excited to see what else there is to come, and I hope that through the semester I get a better understanding on how to become a happier me!

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SOH 18 Valeria Dolgov

SOH 18 Valeria Dolgov

Over the last 5 weeks I have learned so much about mental health and how there is so much room to make choices even though you might have a predisposition to a certain mental illness. In the Keyes’ model it shows how even when you have a mental illness you can still flourish by choosing to. But you can also languish or be in a middle area where neither is happening. However, the PERMA model which stands for positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments was also another interesting topic I learned about during these weeks. This model creates building blocks for a positive life in which one can flourish.

What I was most surprised by was my highest strength which is honesty. I had never seen myself as a truly honest person until I took the test, and for the last few days I have been noticing that quality. If I hadn’t taken this test I would’ve never know that about myself.

During Dr.Sood’s lecture about anxiety I had also learned something new, which was that alcohol and coffee make anxiety worse. With this information I quickly called her and told her of this and was able to help decrease her anxiety.

Blog Post #1

Blog Post #1

When I first started UNIV 391 Science of Happiness, I expected exactly what Dr. Walsh outlined the class was not going to be on the first day. I anticipated some form of how to be happy through just telling yourself to do so.

To say the least I was very surprised. Then when I learned the the class was going to be based off science and scientific studies, I got a little worried that this class would not be for me. However what I have learned from Dr. Walsh and the other guest speakers has been nothing but strait forward and informational.

In one powerful lecture we learned about, Keyes’ Model of Complete Mental Health/Flourishing. This model says that either you are absent of mental illness or you have a presence of mental health. Also that both the absence of mental illness and the presence of flourishing go hand and hand. What those two statements mean are very strait forward, either you have mental illness or you do not and if you do not then you are flourishing. Flourishing is described as how you feel about your life, and how well you are functioning in our lives as individuals and in society. The model also highlights being languishing which means a life characterized by a lack of interest. In this circular model you can be either languishing or flourishing with mental illness or without mental illness. It is important to note that you can be either of these apposing emotions and have or not have mental illness.

In a few lectures so far we have learned about the influences on behavior that genetics plays. One example of what we learned about genetics is the amount of medication that we all respond to in a positive way. Based on your genetics we all respond to the amount of medication that works for us differently.

We also know that genetics influences psychiatric disorders, chronic physical neuro-disorders and rare physical disorders. By having a rare allele(variant form of a gene) this can have a large impact on whether you have one of these disorders.

In class we did a family tree exercise and we picked out traits that are passed down your family tree. Most people picked physical things you can see like red hair or blue eyes. However these genetic disorders can also be more likely based on your genetics or your predisposition to other diseases like cancer and diabetes.

We also got a brief introduction into positive psychology in one lecture early on. Dr. Walsh pointed out that psychology for the longest time focused on  what was wrong with people and positive psychology didn’t even exist. This happened because when soldiers came back from World War II they were the first generation to have a high level of post traumatic stress disorder and psychology were hired to study them to figure out what was wrong with them. Later a few psychologists started on our strengths to improve our overall mental health.

Psychologist Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman along with 50 other collaborators made a methodology called VIA classification system. This methodology became a book and later a survey that we actually took for class. The survey asks you a lot of questions that determine your strengths, weaknesses and everything in between.

After taking the survey I found it to be very factual to the way I see myself. My top five strengths were gratitude, leadership, social intelligence, honesty, and perseverance. Even my bottom five attributes I found to be true, while some of them were hard to swallow about myself they were also factual. I found that exercise to be very insightful.

Blog Post 1 – A Reflection of the Self

Blog Post 1 – A Reflection of the Self

During this week of being in the Science of Happiness class not only did I learn new topics and ideas, but I was also able to reflect those topics and thoughts to my own life. When we first discussed the concept of Keyes’s Model of Complete Mental Health it sparked the idea that one can have a mental illness and at the same time be flourishing. This model seems to go well with someone’s genetic makeup on their behavior and how they can change their way of life by their application.

For a personal standpoint in this case, I have an anxiety disorder, specifically both Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder. There are some mental health issues that appear in many of my family members and I just so happen to be a part of that many. Before in my life I used to really struggle with my anxiety as it did take a huge part of my life of me having to worry about the little things that many others would just brush off. In those cases, I would say that my position was in between low mental illness and high mental health. Now that I am older and have a better control in my life and a better understanding of my anxiety triggers, I would say that I have high mental health and moderate to low mental illness as my anxiety can creep back up from time to time.

When we started the topic of Positive Psychology, I liked how I could again relate this back to how I deal with my mental health as I in someway do use the PERMA model before knowing what it was. I developed some coping strategies for myself during my times when I feel like I’m on the verge of another attack (P), I have talked to people who have been going through similar cases as me and those that were just to listen (R), and I also would take a step back at myself and feel great when I have stopped an attack or feeling that would bug me (A).

Having again the use of the PERMA model and the activity class when we all grouped together based on our top strength is how I cope and deal with my issues. My top strength is Humor and as it is shown in my image, I use it as a way to make myself feel better by laughing at the situation. To laugh to keep from crying.

Here’s to you: Older Siblings,Twins, Students, Friends, The Misunderstood and Seniors of Any Sort

Here’s to you: Older Siblings,Twins, Students, Friends, The Misunderstood and Seniors of Any Sort

In the first lecture by Dr. Walsh, Introduction to SOH, I assessed the key words in the slides, saw that the class was affiliated with COBE and formulated the class as being a psychology class about mental health. During my first semester as a freshman, I took Sociology. Taking a Psychology class was intriguing to me because my sister and brother, who are also students at VCU, told me they really enjoyed their Introduction to Psychology classes. However, as the class has proceeded and as we do different activities to be mindful, I think that I have a better understanding of what Positive Psychology is. In that is a way to shut the world out and any concerns from our minds. I think we as a society are always active until we become physically tired, and our bodies tell us to stop. I think it is from constantly being in our own heads from comparisons, wanting to do things correctly, fear, lack of communication, intimidation and assumptions.

In the first lecture of The Science of Happiness, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I heard about the class from my friend and I wanted a class that I perceived to be a fun class. I am a Biology major with a Chemistry minor on the Pre-professional track, so our fun classes (classes not directly affiliated with a pre- professional track or classes that interest me) tend to come in our Junior and Senior years. This semester I am taking Biology of Drugs and Medicinal Botany Lab. Although, I can tell they are challenging classes, I am fascinated by the idea that drugs are mostly formulated from plants and mimic body processes and receptors. But, I directly learned about the processes of specific drugs and their actions from my classes of Cell Biology and the Biology of Drugs. And, I figured out in my current journey of being more mindful, that I love connecting the different processes that I see in my classes to things that happen in my life. I think that is the way I learn best. And, if I am being honest with myself, I think that I as a student have felt a little overwhelmed from the amount of course work and the time it takes to study. Once I know the course work, I know it well in that moment, but I think we as students are constantly thinking about which assignments are due, when an exam is, volunteer hours, how to form a relationship with your professors, etc. And, for some people I think that it is hard to say, “I need help,” if that is something new and they are afraid of what someone might say back or what will they think of you.

In Dr. Dick’s lecture, The Keyes’ Model of Complete Mental Health, I really liked the quote “feeling good about a life in which you function well.” It said to me that when you are healthy mentally and physically, you function well academically and emotionally. But, you have to find that within yourself because people who do not know you will try to put what they could possibly be struggling with internally or their perceptions onto you. The people you are surrounded by will sometimes determine how you react to certain events. I feel that this could stem from a variety of misunderstandings. Maybe, they are fearful for you, of you or think of you in a certain way. But, how I view people is that whatever they say, good or bad, to me is a reflection of themselves, not me. This blends the idea of Automatic Thoughts, from the Week 4 Exercise. I can tell that sometimes when I’m focused on something else and someone says something to me, I am forced to break from my own rhythm and deal with the situation at hand. The way I process information could be from how my mom, dad, grandparents and my entire family have always spoken to me and/or how I have genetically been wired to think. However, if someone says something to me that maybe didn’t make sense in the way they asked it, I used to think to myself I guess this is what you meant, and I responded in that way. But, I have found that guessing what someone is thinking hasn’t ever helped me to get a better understanding. I have worked on how to communicate better with people. These skills can be learned in the work force, parents, friends, different events, etc. It’s important to communicate well, and it does take practice. But, it’s also important to communicate with the people who maybe speak a different language, look a little different than you, learns differently than you or has a different personality than you, because as my mom has always emphasized to me, “we are social beings.”

The relationships that really last are the ones that someone shows you that they care for you in their own unique ways. But from the perspective of a college senior, older sibling and twin, know when to say something isn’t right and comes up with a way to be mindful and speak to someone you trust and you know won’t post to social media. But, never assume that someone will be ok with you posting their picture to social media. Some people really do have boundaries, morals and expectations. When people feel that someone has crossed the limit I think that is when people start to have their feelings hurt. Which can force someone to replay an experience until they are able to vent to someone they trust about the situation that made them feel a certain way because of betrayal, and I think that can be a slippery slope.

In the Depression and Mood States Lecture, I learned that Clinical Depression and Anxiety can only be diagnosed by a health care professional. But, the factors that contribute to depression are manifested by your body, mind and/or spirit not being in balance. Reflecting on the term depression, itself, without being interested in further researching the details I thought it meant that it was a disease because TV, social media and people were treated for it. I just feel like a lot of miscommunication occurs when people are timid about approaching people and that’s when rumors and gossip can spread. When you are not exposed to a situation in your life and especially in an environment that’s new sometimes you can have feelings of doubt. I have been fortunate enough to have a wide span of VCU family, friends, my close family and colleagues in my life to help me through my college journey and I am happy that they have been here while I still grow as a person, student and aspiring Healthcare professional. In my mindful journey, I would say If you ever feel like you need a friend, a classmate or cousin (someone who feels like a cousin) who maybe sits alone is always safe. But, know the difference between who is a classmate is and who a friend is and I think everything else will fall into place. And, start off meeting in the library if you need a safe space.…0.0..0.95.929.12……1….1..gws-wiz-img…….0i67.J1zpT0KhGAY#imgrc=pV7nwClET7QlbM:


Blog Post #1

Over the past five weeks, I have learned a lot about myself through this class. I now understand the difference from what I thought was anxieties and depressions and what it actually is and, knowing that, I can apply it to my lifestyle. The first couple of classes dealt with understanding nature and nurture and how they coincide with genetics to make you who you are. What stood out the most in this class throughout the first five weeks was the Keye’s Model. Looking over the model, it made perfect sense; low mental illness and flourishing ideally went together since that is clearly where everyone wants to be at. But when we got to high mental illness and flourishing, it threw a curve ball at me because I, honestly, thought it was “stupid and impossible to have both”. You see, many people have mental illnesses and certain strengths and weaknesses about themselves that they choose to let make or break them.            For instance, take two people with anxiety that is through the roof. One of them is the “classical case” of anxiety: takes anti-anxiety medication to help them relax, constantly worried about what’s next or what is uncertain about their future. The other person, however, also suffers from anxiety and takes the medication from time-to-time, yet they have practiced being mindful (the 2-3 minutes we take at the beginning of each class), they have a good grip on bringing themselves back to reality and realize that they can control a good amount of what happens to them. They are essentially flourishing despite their mental illness. That is what I have taken away from the first five weeks of class. I learned to take what you are given and to be the best you that you can be. I have learned that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it. Take your strengths and flourish.

Blog Post 1

Blog Post 1

The class for me so far has gotten off to a slow start in terms of peaking my interest regarding any one topic.  I guess the most convincing information I have observed in class surrounds the PERMA model and Keyes model.  Fredrickson’s “Broaden and Build Theory” seemed to make the most sense to me because of the way it appears to perpetuate good things in your life in a cyclical form through positive emotion.  I know this thought is unfounded, though it feels worth sharing, it seems likely that if you maintain a state of positive emotion for an extended period of time not only will your day to day quality of life go up, but you could enter into your flow zone where you are just dominating the challenges that come up.   Though the idea of having to work just hard enough in something that is manageable seems almost too idealistic and I do not agree with this being a good judgement of how you are doing as a person.  A perspective that I hold is if obstacles arise, given you have been implementing methods to maintain a good life outlook, you will possess the power to rise to the occasion.  The information I was most surprised about was the amount of genetic influence present in particular situations.  I never considered someones ability to be predisposed to certain mental aliments such as depression the same way people are predisposed to things like breast cancer.  I quite enjoyed the explanation of the concept in class because it seemed very balanced and acknowledging of the possibility people can be influenced to different degrees regarding genetics.

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Am I Predisposed To Addiction?


The Power of Positive Psychology

The Power of Positive Psychology

It is easy for depression, anxiety, and mood states to take over during difficult, stressful times. But, why? Learning about positive psychology and mental health models can change one’s perspective on their own mental state and well-being.  Difficult times are inevitable, but the ways in which you react to them can yield different outcomes.

Mental health has maintained a negative stigma, even though millions and millions of people are affected by it. Becoming educated on mental illnesses during class was extremely beneficial, because now I feel more equip to help those close to me suffering with depression or anxiety.  I also learned not to engage in “emotional reasoning” when dealing with feelings of depression. Because one of my top strengths in the VIA report was judgement, I often find myself “emotional reasoning”. Now, I am more aware of how this strength can help and hurt me. Understanding that human behavior is composed of both environmental and genetic influences was also helpful when recognizing why people think and feel the way they do.  

I was surprised by the number of automatic negative thoughts I had during our tracking exercise.  I don’t consider myself to be a negative person, but whenever doubts or insecurities enter my mind, it is hard to let them go.  These negative thoughts lingered and affected my interaction with myself and those around me. Initiating positive psychology into my life has enabled me to combat these negative thoughts with positive thinking.   By following “PERMA”, I also ascribe meaning and accomplishment into my life differently. Instead of worrying about a particular grade in class, I try my best, and move on. This has helped me stay in the present moment and simply “be”.  Here is a quote I found that I personally resonate with: “It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis”.  I can relate this to Keyes’ model of complete mental health, which is a continuum of both the absence of mental illness and the presence of flourishing.  

Photo: Google Images

Blog Post #1

Blog Post #1

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In the simplest terms I can think of (I am not a psychologist or a good writer), Keyes’ model of complete mental health/flourishing is the result of all the other things we have talked about in these first 5 weeks coming together. Personally, I don’t think that they differ at all, they all fit together in a perfect was to describe how the model works. For example, if your family had a history of depression and you yourself suffered from anxiety, yet you learned how to basically “forgive and forget” and let go of the things that bothered you in the past, practiced mindfulness every single day, and cultivated your strengths of humor and love to find ways out of your darkness, you may have high mental illness, but you are also flourishing. You are succeeding in life and doing well despite your problems because you learned how to balance them out and focus on the good rather than on the bad. But on the other hand, lets say you had no mental health problems at all, yet you focused on the bad, held grudges, and chose not to cultivate your strengths, you would have no mental illness but you would be languishing. All of the factors we learned about after originally learning about Keye’s model, are the factors that make up and explain that model. When I first heard that you could have mental illness and still be flourishing, I thought it was just some weird thing that happened very rarely, but after learning about positive psychology and cultivating strengths, it dawned on me that it must be pretty common. Something that I also found interesting and have tried to implement in my own life, is the power of forgiveness. If someone cuts me off on 64 on my way to school, I just let it go, I acknowledge the thought and I just let it go away, I don’t let it effect my day anymore, whereas in the past I would have probably started yelling. I also now try and practice mindfulness every day before I go to sleep, I downloaded a meditation app that plays wonderful nature sounds and I just let go to the sound of birds chirping. I let go of the stresses of the day and I think about how tomorrow is a new day. Both of these has really helped me to not stress as much over little things that shouldn’t bother me.


Image Citation: University of Toronto. “Keye’s Complete Model of Mental Health.” University of Toronto at Scarborough, 

Applying Positive Psychology and Embracing Individual Strengths

Applying Positive Psychology and Embracing Individual Strengths

Throughout the past few weeks, I have dealt with many obstacles that have shaken up what is normally a very important thing to me: my daily routine. The recent weeks have been full of bad news, unfortunate situational circumstances, and what to me, feel like a series of tests for my strength and mental state. This isn’t new, its happened many times before, to me and well… everybody else at one time or another. This time I honestly did find my mind jumping toward our class lectures on positive psychology to help me cope with these problems, including the Wellbeing Theory, and specifically the PERMA model. I learned that following the PERMA model is necessary to achieve “Flow” in my life, a term that is described as finding the happy medium when cross-referencing skill and challenge, and also ideal conditions for Engagement (E).

We all face challenges in our lives, just like I have as of late, and realized since I started ruminating on these ideas in my daily life since, there must be something there that can be helpful to me. I began to ponder on the idea of building upon positivity in my life by leaning into the positive emotions I felt and manifesting them into action. This was told by Barbara Fredrickson’s “Broaden and Build Theory”, which indulges the idea that if one broadens the path their mind takes when experiencing positive emotions they will flourish in their activities and relationships, and obtain the ability to broaden their personal resources in things such as their skills, knowledge, and social support. The theory explains that those steps would, in turn, enhance the most important aspects of their lives, promote wellness, and eventually lead to an uphill spiral in life creating a cycle of positivity. The idea that building on positive emotions could result in living a meaningful life was an enticing one, although of course not so simple when its attempted to be applied in real life.

During the week I had dealing with deadly storms in the place where my family lives, I actively tried to make mental connections from my positive emotions to attempt to experience strength and optimism to get through them. I hoped that doing this would help me to obtain strength and mental acuity to handle those situations and complete the tasks that were necessary, and in a lot of ways, it did work. For example, my travel anxiety had to be overcome to help my sister evacuate from her school due to the Hurricane. I felt accomplished after, realizing that this theory when applied really could work for me if I played to my strengths.

So, my strengths… For our class we VIA strengths survey, and I was most interested in my individual results. It was shown that my present top three strengths are Bravery, Forgiveness, and Leadership respectively. I was fascinated by these results as in the past few weeks dealing with the negative impacts of the events I was facing… I would have guessed those traits would have been close to the bottom. As I reflected, I realized that all of my life I have possessed those strength, and that sometimes I run away from them for reasons having to do with my mental state in how I felt about myself, my habit to self-doubt.

Throughout my career thus far as a Psychology major at VCU I’ve learned that there are positive mental rewards for achieving goals that required great effort and anticipation: a flood of mid-brain dopamine which encourages continued behavior of that nature. (A in PERMA is Achievement), and that’s a feeling that has enabled me to embrace the Fredrickson’s “Broaden and Build” theory.

I have realized since beginning to more thoroughly understand some of the theories of positive psychology, such as those discussed in class, that I am actually able to apply them to my life to reduce stress, feel a sense of reward, and minimize anxiety in my everyday routine. There are a vast amount of theories in psychology, including many conflicting theories, but utilizing the PERMA model, being conscious of how to “Broaden and Build”, as well as recognizing my strengths have already massively helped me. It is important to utilize what works for you, and I believe continuing to apply positive psychology to my everyday life will lead me down a path of positive well-being.


SOH-Fall18 – class work  2018-09-23 16:09:15

SOH-Fall18 – class work 2018-09-23 16:09:15

Pretty much all of the topics in this class are related as we saw in earlier lectures genetics plays a larger role in your predispositon to having a mental illness. but your environment  does as well. this can lead to some people being better able to handle some situations than others. this can lead to a disconnect with people when some are able to handle a situation easier than others. I see this often in my own family when im able to cope better with stress than my other family members for a while and this caused a disconnect between us. but in understanding these small natural differences you can better understand and empathize with others. This can also be seen by our strengths that each of us have will some people may be born with these strengths are given them because of there situation so that leads to even larger differences in how situations are handled. these strengths weren’t really something I had ever considered to be a real factor up to this point. I’ve started to try to use mindfulness when i’m feeling stressed but its been difficult to implement as I already have other stress out lets such as the gym but I feel as though if I can add this to my skills it could be useful for when it is difficult to get to the gym.  so all in all these topics we have talked about are all related and influenced by one another so its hard to say that you have taken away just one point. it just goes to show how complex of an issue this really is.

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Blog Post #1 – What I’ve Learned

Blog Post #1 – What I’ve Learned

Mental health is one of the biggest struggles that most people face on an everyday bases. It is an internal matter that with outside help and support you can eventually learned to control and maybe conquer instead of it controlling you.Over these past five weeks, I became more aware that there are many types of mental health levels. Genetics play a role in your mental health but how you decide to address it is how it can affect you. This past week we talked about personal strengths and how we develop new ones over time while maintaining some of the same ones. I believe that applying your top three strengths to your life while working on your last three or two not so strong will help enlighten those who struggle with mental health to focus on better themselves instead of the negatives. Our thoughts are also something that effect of mental health.This part of positive psychology is important because a lot of people have these thoughts but not everyone is able to see that it is all mental and getting past that mental obstacle is rather tough.   Knowing what thoughts bring us down or play a detrimental role on our conscious is valuable in finding ways to change our negative psych to one of positivity. The in class and out of class assignments really helped me tie what we learned in class to my life. Growing up mental health was not something that i really thought or knew much about but over these past weeks I feel that i have learned a lot on the topic. I feel that i have a better understanding of my own mental health and am happy to know that I am not alone in my journey of mental health and happiness.


Blog Post #1 – Mariam Tareq

Blog Post #1 – Mariam Tareq

In the last five weeks of this course, I really started to think more about how much mental health impacted everyones day to day life and especially mine. It shined a light on how important it is to recognize the things that are getting in your way of happiness. In the first week we were introduced to a quote by Lee Tolstoy, “If you want to be happy, be” and it was something that really resonated with me personally. The key model was interesting to me because although it was such a simple chart, it was something that anyone was able to relate to and compare their mental health to regardless of the spectrum they may be on. It really highlights that even someone that struggles with high mental health disorders can still rich a high flourishing level on the spectrum and someone who may have a low mental health level and still fall into the low flourishing areas. Something I never really considered when I thought about the personality of someone was their genetics and how that may have been part of shaping them. I knew some mental health was connected to genes but I didn’t really consider all of the possible ways genes could come into play. When thinking about this, I thought about myself and people I knew that were able to push past the cards they were dealt genetically and how they’ve learned to overcome challenges in their life that were impacted by mental health. It’s also so important to understand where toxic or negative energy in your life may be coming from and learn to eliminate that in order to grow and thrive into the best and happiest version of yourself. This really ties to the last week we have had in class, discussing our personal strengths and where they came from. After taking the survey and getting my results back I noticed how a lot of my top five and bottom five really were a result of what has been going on in the last year of my life and it comes to show that we are always growing and changing as people and there are many different aspects that can influence who we are.

Blog Post #1

Blog Post #1


(Picture of myself. This is a picture of my top trait, appreciation of beauty and excellence, in action. This is my happy place and how intentional activity has helped improve my mood.)

Initiating the class with the topic of genetics was a great way to set up the foundation and reasons behind the existence of the class. The graphic that expressed how genetics (50% of what makes us who we are), context (10%), and intentional activity (40%) worked together to make us who we are helped bridge the gap. It explained how genetics fits into behavior and what we can do to balance the effects of genetics with our intentional activity.  Keye’s model of complete mental health flourishing strengthed the previous chart by showing us the states of mind we could be put in due to our intentional activity despite nature (genetics) and nurture. The discussion of depression, anxiety, and moods explained the negative aspects of us all due to our genetics and our own neglect of ourselves. Talking about positive psychology and how we can strengthen our most and least prominent characteristics allowed us to take what we’ve learned about common negative genetic problems and the emotions we feel and work within that 40% of intentional activity to counteract the negative and bring more positivity into our lives.

The topics discussed in class appear to be quite different, but they do work together well. Nature, of course, is a completely separate issue from nurture, but they work together to make us who we are. We cannot change our nature, but we can most definitely still lead positive lives. There is a mix of research, information, and practical application in this class that gives us a more well-rounded experience. For example, the VIA test about our personality traits/characteristics was a way of applying what we learned the previous few weeks, and including all the traits and ranking them was a more positive psychological approach. My bottom trait was zest, but the test didn’t say I was absent of zest the way most personality tests tend to. This way, it is something I feel can work on. There is hope for zest in my life so long as I take steps to ensure that.

Prior to this class, I had absolutely no idea that there was that 10% of context that worked with your intentional activity and genetics. Learning this helped me to be easier on myself when I don’t see progress. The context of my life has always worked against, and I felt like I had to get out of that in order to apply intentional activity. Now, I understand that the intentional piece is separate from that. I have stopped trying to change the context of my life, and it has been the most freeing experience for me. In addition, knowing that 60% of my mental health and behavior are things I cannot change instead of 50/50 has helped relieve some of the pressure I put on “fixing” myself.

Blog Post #1

Blog Post #1

During the first five weeks of class, I have learned a great deal about different aspects of mental health. In the first couple of classes we covered how nature vs. nurture plays into depression. It is important to understand that yes, there is a genetic factor when it comes to being depressed, because it causes an imbalance of certain chemicals in your brain. However, I think that those traits are enhanced or reduced based on the environment the person is in. When I say environment I am talking about the people they are around, the weather (seasonal depression), how happy they are with their life style, etc. So many different things play into depression, it is hard to really pinpoint what sole factor caused it in the first place. We talked about the different studies that were done to prove that genetics plays a role in mental health, such as the one about the twins and how fraternal twins differ from identical twins. All these studies end up concluding the same thing, yes there is a correlation between genetics and depression, but it is not yet known to what degree.

Keye’s model shows that happiness or the lack there of, is not black and white, but instead it is on a spectrum. No one person is 100% happy and deals with no sadness or depression and same vise versa, no one is 100% unhappy.

Dr.Sood, gave us a very knowledgeable presentation about depression and different mood states. She emphasized how depression usually starts at an early age and its harder to detect due to that.She also talked about the different risk factors that contribute to depression such as being lonely, lack of social support, having history of depression in your family and substance abuse. One of the parts that really interested me was the science behind depression and how different neurotransmitters are inflamed when someone is depressed. My favorite part of her talk was how it is hard to get treatment or ask for help, and how medication is so looked down upon for mental health. I personally am trying to get tested for ADHD and after doing my research I came to two unfortunate conclusions-

1.  mental health treatment is EXPENSIVE

2. insurance covers barely any of the expenses

And to me that was very discouraging because it is already so hard to build the courage to ask for help but if it is going to cost so much then in a way it’s telling people to not get the help.

I also have gone to mental health counseling a handful amount of times and it has really helped my mental health but I am a senior and I was thinking about how after I graduate, these resources will no longer be offered to me and having to pay for counseling is a huge burden so I am trying to find other ways to keep my mental health in check for after I graduate.

The most recent topic covered in class was the introduction to positive psychology where we focused on the PERMA model. PERMA stands for Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishments. Essentially all of these traits are necessary for someone to have a positive mindset. Personally I think the one most relevant to me is accomplishments because whenever I am in a bad mindset I remind myself of all of the things I have accomplished and that helps me get out of the bad rut. But we also focused on traits that help us deal with anxiety and depression and it came out out to be that my top trait is courage. I think that this is pretty accurate because whenever I feel like I am about to hit another wave of depression, I always make sure to go to counseling as soon as possible, because I refuse to let this disease impact my life. When I was first dealing with it and I had no idea what was going on with me, I really tired to figure it all out and never did I feel like I couldn’t ask for help because of the stigma around mental health. But I must add that I had a lot of friends who understood what I was going through and that really helped me get through it all. Something that stood out to me was that judgement is one of my weakest qualities. I really feel that this is something I want to work on. I am the type of person that does not really think things through and I kind of just jump into things and sometimes that really has a toll on my emotions so my newest goal is to think before I act.


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Blog Post 1

Blog Post 1

Image result for quotes about positive mental health

The ideas of flourishing and languishing were new to me. Initially I thought flourishing was just growth and beauty, but never once did I think of how it could relate to me. This idea was supported by the week one reading, “Promoting and Protecting Mental Health as Flourishing.” In the Keyes reading, I learned that flourishing is the promotion and maintenance of mental health. The more we talked about it in class, I realized that although languishing is the exact opposite of flourishing, you could be mentally healthy but also languishing. What stood out the most to me in this reading was that African Americans had higher rates of mental health than white Americans.

I feel that the assignment that has helped me the most to relate to the class content was the VIA strength survey. My strength was fairness. It was one that I was surprised to see, but after thinking about it, it made sense. It was just a skill that came naturally to me. But I was also surprised to see forgiveness at the bottom of my list because that’s a skill that I had worked on in the past. The other skills that were at the bottom of my list are the ones that I realized that if I improve them, it would help me to flourish.

I believe that everything that we’ve learned can tie into the idea of how we can help ourselves to flourish. I believe that they are different because they each consider a different approach toward mental health. In closing, although we cannot do much to change how genetics affect our behaviors, with a combination of the positive psychology methods and the cultivating strengths method, we can better cope with the ways mental illness, depression, anxiety, and mood states affect us so that we can flourish.


Blog Post #1

Blog Post #1

Over the past five weeks, we’ve been introduced to various concepts ranging from models, theories, terms, topics, and weekly readings. We were first introduced to the concept of Nature vs. Nurture. In this concept, essentially nature such as our genetics have already predisposed our way of being and our behavior, while nurture such as our environment, upbringing, relationships, and interactions influences our behavior. Genetics does play a factor in one’s behavior, for example, if a person has a family history of depression, then there is a likelihood of the person already being predisposed to be depressed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the person will be depressed.  It is important to note that there are many contributing factors that cause one’s happiness and not one situation will be the same for everyone. It is all important to note that one can be exposed to a certain situation, but that doesn’t mean that person will be hindered by that situation. For instance, a person who has had a treacherous upbringing and an overall hard life more than likely may be sad or depressed, however, that person may somehow find the strength to better themselves by changing his or her environment. Also, the individual’s negative upbringings can be a motivation to better him or herself to find happiness.

   I learned a lot from Keyes’ model of complete mental health. It is important to know the different parts that are associated with mental illness, and Keyes diagram indicates the four sections of mental illness by the following categories: high mental illness, low mental illness, low mental health, and high mental illness. An important aspect of Keyes’ model the idea of flourishing which is how we feel about our lives, and how we are functioning. This concept resonated with me because as of lately, I’ve just been living day by day with lots of stressors. I’ve all been doing a lot of soul searching trying to find my purpose and I’ve felt somewhat disconnected with my friends and family, and I need to work on all my situations so I can be a flourishing person that I know I can be.  

   Dr. Walsh introduced the class to the PERMA theory, which means Positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments. After learning about this concept, I realized that I need to work on positive emotions. For the most part I would say that I’m a happy person, however, as of lately, I’ve felt so lost in so many aspects of my life especially my career path and with that came an extreme sense of sadness. I’m glad that I’ve realized and accepted the fact that I need to find ways to express positive emotions. For me, it is extremely important to be in a positive mindset because when I’m not I begin to overthink the smallest situations and from there I just simply stress myself out.

From the beginning of class, I learned what exactly the science of happiness is and what it is not. I came to class thinking the science of happiness was about ways to be happy, but that is not the case, as there is more to this topic. The science of happiness essentially is studying positive psychology and empirical sciences. I also have been able to distinguish between being sad and being depressed. I must admit, there have been many situations in which I’ve said “I’m depressed”, but I might have just been having a sad day. I think it is important for all of us to be aware when one is sad and one is depressed because there is a clear distinction.  

The activity that was most meaningful to me was the VIA Strength Survey. My top five strengths were prudence, fairness, gratitude, appreciation of beauty & excellence, and teamwork. I must admit that I was not surprised by most of my results, however, I was surprised that teamwork was one of my top five strengths. Although, if I were to be put in a situation where I had to work with other individuals I would do it without a fuss. I would also do my equal share of the work as well as taking my group members ideas into consideration. To add, I think the main reason why I found it surprising that teamwork is one of my top five strengths is because whenever I hear that an assignment has to be done in groups, my firsts reaction is to tense up a little because my preference is to work on my own. Also, I begin to worry about teamwork activities because I always want to give my best work and I don’t want my group members to think I’m giving the bare minimum. Overall, this survey has allowed me to realize my strengths; it is important that I continue on improving and cultivating my strengths because there is always room for improvement.

Another exercise that was extremely helpful was when I tracked my automatic thoughts. That week many situations were occurring back to back and I felt as my thoughts were all over the place. Since I was writing my thoughts down for a week, I felt a big stress removed from my shoulders because I was able to express my thoughts in writing, as opposed to holding everything in.  If there was a moment that I was feeling anxious or had a set of mood changes, I quickly wrote down my thoughts. Writing down my thoughts allowed me to reflect on my day and how I coped or dealt with situations. I encourage anyone to take a few minutes out of their busy schedule to write down their feelings, emotions, and thoughts and to reflect on it.



Happiness vs Materialism

Happiness vs Materialism

This first month of class and readings has been focused on what it means to be mentally healthy and how we can measure and increase mental health and happiness. In the readings mental health is looked at under a variety of lenses. Authors Dick, Adkins, and Kou looked at how genetics affects adolescent behavior. Adolescent behavior is difficult to study due to different environmental factors but is critical to understand. It can give insight into how youth will grow to perceive their world and what lens they will look through. Keyes article as well as positive psychology by Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi share the theme of mental satisfaction. Mentally flourishing individuals feel better themselves while also have greater benefits to society. Everyone would like to feel better all the time but how do we get to that point? What can we do as individuals to be happier?

Unfortunately there is a little luck involved to being happy, genetics do play a part in happy one can be. Whether it be severe depression that is causing lack of dopamine and making it near impossible to get out of bed; or an inherited gene like LOC100288337 that is associated with alcohol problems. These factors people do not get a choice in. For many Americans with severe depression they do not seek treatment needed for a variety of factors. It could be not being able to get out of bed or others saying to get over it you’ll be fine. As a society we should focus on giving people good quality years of mental health rather than quick fixes like medication.


I thought it was interesting that in Differences in Character Among College Students that most had the weakness of self regulation and love of learning. The self regulation makes sense because it is new environment with little parental oversight. This is the time period where we have to figure it out on our own to make life work. As for the love of learning in my sociology studies I have found it can be traced back to standardized testing becoming the new educational norm to follow. Not only does it makes students memorize boring fact it also takes away the passion a teacher can provide to their class about a topic. I would imagine after a few years of reading off a paper that work becomes dull and uninteresting.


I found the Positive Psychology reading to be very helpful in relating this class to myself. It gave me a starting point when “needs” were brought up. According to the article humans need competence, belongingness, and autonomy. If you focus on making sure these needs are met and keep an optimistic outlook it can really go a long way in how you feel about yourself and others. The optimism part has been the hardest for me I have been a pessimistic person for a long time now because my rationale was that it was less likely to be disappointed. I did find that I was less disappointed by things and others actions but was not happy. I will continue to work at this whole optimism thing until it finally sticks.


On a side note a quote from the depression reading that I thought was interesting was, “emphasis on having rather than being in society was a symptom of a sick society.”

SOH-Fall18 – Ashley Greenlee Website 2018-09-22 11:44:50

SOH-Fall18 – Ashley Greenlee Website 2018-09-22 11:44:50


During one our classes, we learned about the infamous nature vs. nurture argument. I have heard about this argument since I was in high school, but I learned more about how behavior can be influenced by both genetic and environmental factors in this class. For example, I thought that genetic and environmental factors influenced different behaviors but not the same. However, in Dr. Dick’s research paper on “Genetic Influences on Adolescent Behavior”, the results of smoking behavior in adolescents showed that genetics played a bigger influence in early adolescents and as the kids grew older environmental factors started to have a greater influence.

I also learned how even though genetics account for 50% of human behavior, intentional activity (environmental factors) can help make changes in our behavior too. For example, in our first reading, we learned about Keyes’ Model of Complete Mental Health and Flourishing. I have never heard of this model until this class. Part of the study showed that people who did not have a mental illness and were languishing had higher percentages of mental disorders than people who were moderately mentally healthy and flourishing. In our first discussion, we talked about how genetic and environmental factors can relate to Keyes Model. Even though a person could be considered languishing doesn’t mean that they will forever stay in that category. Environmental factors could help them move into the flourishing category.

The genetic and environmental factors could also apply to the VIA Strength Surveys. In class when Dr. Walsh showed us her results after every year, some of her top five character strengths were consistent throughout the years but some new strengths also showed up every year and she talked about what how her environment possibly developed these new strengths. Even though I did not take strength surveys every year, I had taken one last semester.  My top five this semester were gratitude, judgment, prudence, perspective, and love while last year was judgment, perspective, spirituality, prudence, and appreciation of beauty and excellence. By comparing the results, I would assume that judgment, perspective, and prudence were probably more genetic influences than environmental influences. This would make sense because I believe most of my family members carry these strengths as well. However, gratitude, love, and appreciation of beauty and excellence were ranked very differently since the last semester. Even though, I only took this twice, this makes me wonder if this was more of an environmental influence and if so, what changed in my environment to make this difference? In the previous semester, I didn’t feel like I had that type of connection with my friends or family. However, over the summer, I took an internship in another state. Even though I lived alone and didn’t know many people around the area, a lot of my friends and family came to visit me or check on me. This made me realize some of the connections I had with extended family members and friends that I didn’t realize last semester, which could be the reason why love became a top five this semester.

Blog Post #1

“If you want to be happy, be.”. This quote, by Leo Tolstoy, really stuck with me when I saw it typed on the screen, hence why I named my blog after it. Not only do these words embody how I wish my mind worked but it also truly represents a key factor to well-being we learned about in class. The key to thrive lies not only within genetics, while this is still a major influence, but also in how you chose to interact with your environment.  This phenomena is craftily represented in a model called the Keyes’ Model of Complete Mental Health/Well-being. It represents that it is possible to flourish, reach high mental health, with a high mental illness which is hereditary and can exist in the form of depression, anxiety, etc. It also demonstrates how it is very possible to ‘languish’ with no prerequisite illness and it credits this and the fact that happiness is achievable while suffering from an illness to self-controlled actions. While genetics do play a role it, has been studied and concluded that they are only about half of the problem, this gave me hope because when I tracked depression in my family tree it ran in females on my mom’s side which would potentially include me. Even if I inherited depression I have and will many options to shape my life. I could do this why building strong relationships and keeping healthy, which I do by visiting the gym at least 5 times a week. I also learned how these genetic influences could become more or less relevant throughout my life, for example in the stressful years of adolescence I am at a higher risk of all sorts of things, especially the formation of alcohol and nicotine addiction.  It was also presented to me, that really monitoring my thoughts, by journaling like we did in a weekly assignment, would be vital for me to help understand why I have certain negative thoughts and then work to counteract them with reflection. This, as well as daily meditations and simple facts have helped me look at the bright side and I am excited to continue the journey of this class until the end of the semester.

Dont Worry, Be Happy – SOH blog post 2018

Dont Worry, Be Happy – SOH blog post 2018


The course “Science of Happiness” is filled with wholistic information on factors that influence mental wellbeing, resources and practices that to improve wellness. There moments during the course when I have asked myself “what does this have to do with happiness or its study”. It was unclear to me why translational sciences or the genetics of mental illness would be needed in order to study or understand happiness. While pondering each class and their correlation to one another I realized that each topic is carefully structured.

The course begins with introducing genetics and predisposition to certain disorders. This introduces the question if certain people are more likely to “be happy” or live a more fulfilling life than others. Although genetics does play a great role on mental inflictions, they can be managed or even counteracted by life each person chooses to live.

Next happiness was introduced using Keyes’ Model of Complete Mental Health. This model explains, much to my surprise, that anyone can reach the level of “flourishing”. It is possible to be happy, to flourish and live a fulfilling life in spite of mental illness. In this model flourishing isn’t simply financial or academic. It encompasses self-worth and actualization.

After a clear idea of happiness and its factors was presented, science and translation science was introduced. As aforementioned, I did not really understand why this necessary for this course. Through this course I realized that, some of my fellow classmates and myself included, had a very bleak and biased image of what “science” is. As a biology student, my definition of science is long boring lectures discussing scientific theories and findings, posters, lab coats, goggles, test tubes and chemicals. Now I understand that it’s even more broad than I thought. The topics discussed in this course truly is based on “systematic and structured study” of genetics, social behavior and happiness itself.

One of the most important aspect of studying science or becoming a science is communicating your findings to diverse audiences. This is when I understood why translation science of included in this course. To be able to write scientific papers, conduct presentations or even discuss findings with a colleague requires being able to understand your target listener. This means generalizing information, making it more specific and even eliminating scientific jargon based on whom the information is directed.

Overall, this is a course that any and every one can appreciate. Each topic discussed will influence each student differently based on their experiences.

All Eyes on the NRA

All Eyes on the NRA


All Eyes on the NRA

     As the National Rifle Association (NRA) has grown to become the largest political force as America’s defender of the Second Amendment, its extravagance in trying to change gun control policies have also implemented fear among American citizens. With the increasing vote for gun control, numerous questions have surfaced. The most important being this: Are the intentions of the NRA socially accepted with its irrationalities? The NRA is seen at its best when using false and irrational information in their digital videos to manipulate viewers (Luo). The ethical behavior of the NRA has been widely scrutinized, with supporters arguing “gun control isn’t crime control” through propaganda and others in favor of gun control(Davidson). I argue that NRA uses unethical tactics to achieve their popularity and voice their platforms.

The National Rifle Association has stood since 1871, and is an American nonprofit organization that advocates for gun rights. It is constructed of five million members who strive to advance rifle marksmanship and educate citizens on firearm safety and competency. According the NRA itself, “since its inception, [the NRA] has been the premier firearms education organization in the world”(Nat’l Rifle Association). They have also published hundreds of magazines and digital videos that influence legislation and have initiated lawsuits.

The NRA has been deemed one of the most feared lobbying organization in the nation’s capital since its shift in campaigning. One of the key differences between the NRA’s sedated past and its current dignity is about how they communicate about guns, gun control, and the organization itself. In Osha Davidson’s book Under Fire: The NRA and the Battle for Gun Control, he writes about the rise of the NRA from a political perspective. It is suggested that the 1977 Gun Revolt helped facilitate this shift in which they pushed to be a political force and cultivated the gun culture war. It is noted in the book that Ronald Reagan and Harlon Carter “climbed the steps to invincibility” and gained slightly over one million members (Davidson). Since then the NRA has accumulated over five million members; however, the NRA’s rhetorical overkill would come back to bite them.

A primary reason the NRA is unethical is the language they choose to facilitate in. In Scott Melzer’s book Gun Crusaders: The NRA’s Culture War, he describes in what ways the NRA appeal to citizens. After the numerous changes in campaigning, recruitment videos narrated by Charlton Heston were made in which he “warned that Americans could easily lose their Second Amendment gun rights, and, if that happened, the torch of freedom would lose its flame” (Melzer). In time Heston became favored by his fellow “crusade” and shed spotlight on the religious and moral aspects of gun freedom. His ideology in which he stated, “…the European Jews feared to admit their faith. The Nazis forced them to wear yellow stars…so what color star will they pin on gun owners’ chests?” was to remind people that gun rights are a faith and should not be given over. The fact that NRA advocates are comparing the Holocaust to gun rights is undeniably offensive and threatening to religious people. The NRA’s shift in campaigning have managed to target gun right advocates who offend different cultures and still do today.

NRA is notoriously known for generating support by influencing people’s perceptions even though they do not match reality. In a Law journal published by Scott Medlock NRA=No Rational Argument, he covers how the NRA has managed to become so powerful by irrational means. For example, the NRA strongly encourages the perception that individual safety coincides with gun ownership. One way they help depict this is their “Armed Citizens” section of NRA magazines where they share memoirs of them protecting themselves from crime with guns. As one could see this presents itself as one “taking control of their own destiny” but in reality, it may have not been the best decision (Medlock). The NRA also emphasizes that police cannot protect society therefore, firearms are used as an equalizer. A popular slogan by the NRA is “rapists love gun control” implying that women are more vulnerable to attacks when they are unarmed (Medlock). This is not only offensive, it is also sexist and should be unappealing to women. The NRA is exceptionally good at depicting the world as a hazardous place in these ways and many more.

Perhaps the most unethical behaviorbehind the NRA are their media tactics. Currently speaking, the NRATV have released a collection of videos on the Web that have gone past the status quo of the NRA. In one video that the NRATV released, they directed it toward The Times for sharing their violent protesters in the news. The video was narrated by spokeswoman, Loesch, who expressed her solution as “to smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding, until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness.” (Lou) The NRA also went after The Washington Post when a comment was made after Dom Raso, a former Navy Seal, narrated a video expressing his political opinion on government as “an anarchy, led by people who hate our President and who hate the people who support him” (Lou). By repeating the same messages and arguments, the supporters begin to regurgitate themselves without a doubt. The same words are inserted into the sub consciousness of all NRA supporters. It is obvious they use their media platforms to assassinate the real news.

In contrast, supporters argue that the NRA is not unethical because they take safety precautions very seriously. There has been heavier talk about whether or not teacher should be armed at school and what precautions it has on safety. In Shah Yagana’s articleNRA Aims to Arm Teachers, Personnel for School Safety, she focuses in on the NRA’s stance on safety in the school system. She reported that the NRA claims that arming teachers and other personnel is the best approach to combat gun violence in schools (Shah). The group also assessed schools all over the country for “security vulnerabilities”, best practices and technologies (Shah). The assessment of schools should be a priority to help prevent school shootings, but arming teachers isn’t the best solution. This creates a gap of authority; one that the NRA casts on its supporters. I argue this authoritative stratagem is a way for the NRA to gain support by irrational and false accusations. Although they may want to protect students, it is just another way to have a necessity for gun usage in America.

NRA supporters value their commitment to national charities such as Speedway Children’s Charities. In one instance, they teamed up at the Starkey Hearing Foundation to “deliver the gift of hearing to more than 70 underserved children and adults throughout the Carolinas” (Starkey Hearing Foundation). They had NASCAR racers there to sign autographs and take pictures. However, recently after the Parkland high school shooting the SMI (Speedway Motor Inc.) is still devoted to the NRA. According to USA Today, it is untold as to why they still share a partnership, but they “have been a good long-standing partnership and plan to continue”(Hembree). From a NRA advocate’s point of view, they are helping people in need, especially children which is a positive thing. But why are they doing it? It seems like NRA is hanging on by its last string by putting on a mask society is familiar with.

In summary, I argue that the National Rifle Association utilizes unethical policies to reiterate a simple message- one being that guns are harmless and a sign of freedom.The NRA clearly utilizes guns as an excuse for their outrage. This group primarily seeks to gain membership by exploiting different types of people and their cultures. Through their unacceptable jargon and manipulation, the NRA finds its way to get a handle on a way to appeal to certain types of people whether it be women, children, or mothers. They also produce fearful videos that pose threats on other groups/people that do not stand with them. With the NRA climbing to five million members, it results in a feared society. If society shows they are not fearful by continuing to speak out the NRA will be overworked.  I encourage citizens to keep scrutinizing the NRA for understanding and rebuttal. The NRA has preyed on fear and hate for several years now. As the NRA grows, I hope they can find different ways to voice their opinions.

Writers Memo

     As my final assignment for Focused Inquiry I was asked to demonstrate ethical reasoning in an argument using academic research. I chose to gear my mind toward gun control because of recent incidents where guns and its supporters have created major controversy in society. After doing surface level research, my ethical argument stood as a question that illegitimates the NRA and traces back to why the NRA has become feared. Through my research I found it easy to find articles, journals, videos, and other media platforms that criticize the NRA and do not favor their group. Although I found a vast amount of information, I thought it would be most useful to my audience if I focused on the shift in policy, how the NRA evokes fear in society through language, and their media usage to reiterate their simple message. It was harder for me to come up with a counter argument due to my morals and the Web itself because the majority of society does not favor the NRA; the only sources I found were from the NRA themselves. My goal in this essay was to put in perspective what the NRA is like and how they carry themselves for the sake of students and others who aren’t aware of such a fearful group.

Rethinking standardized testing

I basically changed my entire diagram. When discussing my paper in the conference, I realized that my conclusion was wrong. At first, my conclusion was that children in poverty are unfairly affected by standardized testing. I realized that my points leading to it didn’t exactly correspond. So, I sought out an ethical conclusion, which involved finding a solution to the standardized testing problem.  I had to redo a lot of my unit 3 paper as well. I talked extensively about the Colorado Growth Model in my paper and had it as multiple points in my diagram.


Looking Ahead To Unit Two

The three readings I did were Wrong Answer, Why Women Aren’t Welcome On The Internet, and Big Data On Campus.


Wrong Answer was the most interesting read, to me. I want to work in Social Work, and learning about the impoverished areas of Georgia fascinated me: Savannah Georgia is where I got my name, and where some of my family is from. After I get my master’s degree I hope to work in a homeless shelter helping people with drug addictions, housing grant applications, and obtaining a job after being declared a convicted felon. Learning about Parks Middle School, the students, the teachers, and the neighboring areas reminds me of what I’d be dealing with on a day-to-day basis as a social worker. Lewis seems to be the kind of person I hope to be in my career, although I hope I won’t have to break laws (such as changing test answers) to help my clients succeed. It really breaks my heart that schools in impoverished communities could be shut down because of their test scores. This story interested me so much that I researched the No Child Left Behind, and found out that Obama ended this act in December of 2015. I am wondering what acts are in place now to make sure that public schools are keeping up with the rest of the nation, and wonder how The Administration now deals with the prominent issues that were extremely prevalent during the Bush, and the following, administrations.


Why Women Aren’t Welcome On The Internet is an interesting read. I never realized the extent to which public women figures are harassed and threatened with rape and murder, through Media: apparently, from the article, it hasn’t just been Twitter users who have felt this harassment. In the 1934 they passed a law to address “harassment through the mail, via telegram, and over the telephone.” At first, I was under the impression that anonymous harassment through media started in the 1990’s, when internet really began. I had no idea it stemmed back to mail and telegraph!


Big Data On Campus is thought-provoking, especially to a college student. It seems everywhere I touch they’re collecting data. Spit For Science, a University funded experiment that provides compensation, is collecting DNA samples from students! I am weary that they’re using the Wi-Fi somehow to track searches, and using the hand scanner at the gym to find out even more personal information. Although it is interesting, it just validates my paranoia and stirs conspiracy theories: to avoid seeming like a lunatic I’d rather refrain from doing more research on this topic.